Despite needing oxygen for us to survive, oxygen is not considered the most abundant gas in the universe. In fact, oxygen is only 21 percent of the total amount of gas in the earth’s atmosphere. This is not even half of the amount of the most abundant gas, which is nitrogen. But why is nitrogen so abundant? What are its uses? Here are some of the interesting facts about nitrogen that might help us answer our questions and confusions about this element.
Nitrogen is actually very useful since it is recognized as an essential building block of amino and nucleic acids, which is very vital to life in earth. However, the nitrogen found in our atmosphere cannot be directly used by living things since it must be first converted into to a reduced state in order for it to become useable. Nitrogen is a gaseous element with a chemical symbol “N”. It has an atomic number 7 and has an atomic weight of 14.00674 u. These are the common things that most of us already knew about nitrogen. What we don’t know are those interesting details about this element, which includes the following.
Nitrogen is a gas that is actually odorless, tasteless and colorless. This element takes up about 78.1% of the total volume of air in the Earth’s atmosphere. Since nitrogen is gas, this element is classified as nonmetal. It is also considered as a relatively inert gas, but bacteria found in the soil are capable of transforming this gas into its useable form for the plants and animals to utilize in order to make the essential proteins and amino acids. Nitrogen was also called or tagged as azote by a French chemist named Antoine Laurent Lavoisier. This French word basically means “without life”. It is also known as ‘burnt” and “dephlogisticated” air because any part of the atmosphere without any amount of oxygen is usually occupied entirely by nitrogen. This is because the other gases present in the atmosphere are already in low concentrations.
Another interesting fact about nitrogen is that its compounds are usually found in foods, poisons, fertilizers and other explosives. In fact 3 % of our body weight is comprised of nitrogen. Aside from this, nitrogen is also the cause of the different colors shown by the Northern lights (aurora), such as blue-green, red-orange, blue-violet and the rest of the purple shades. It is likewise through liquefaction and fractional distillation, where we could prepare nitrogen gas coming from the atmosphere. Aside from this, the valence for this element is either 3 or 5. Last, but not the least, nitrogen is also recognized as one of the ingredients of the laughing gas.
These are some of the interesting facts about the element of nitrogen. Now we know why this particular gas is present in our atmosphere.