What is Nitrogen?
Nitrogen is a gaseous element that is abundantly found in the Earth’s atmosphere. This particular element has no taste, odor, or color and is said to be an important component for various living organisms. Nitrogen is part of the air that animals and humans breathe and this chemical element is also part of some food items that organisms consume regularly.
This particular gaseous element was discovered in 1772 by a man named Daniel Rutherford. During that time, Nitrogen was referred to as “noxious” or “fixed” type of air by Rutherford. Other scientists also gave Nitrogen different names like “burnt air” or “mepithic air” among other references. It was only until 1794 when “Nitrogen” was used as part of the English language. It was said that a French chemist in the name of Jean Antoine Chaptal first used the word “nitrogene” when referring to the gaseous element which is present in nitric acid.
Nitrogen is formed by a process called fusion among the stars in the Earth’s atmosphere. This makes nitrogen the largest component in the atmosphere in terms of volume and/or weight. In the entire universe, this gaseous element is considered the seventh most abundant in terms of mass. In living organisms, Nitrogen is part of various molecules, proteins, and nucleic acids. This element can also be found in animal wastes in the form of ammonia, uric acid, or urea.
Though abundant in the Earth’s atmosphere, Nitrogen in itself is considered dangerous. In its pure form, this chemical element has the ability to displace oxygen molecules making it difficult for human beings to breathe properly. Pure Nitrogen when inhaled will cause asphyxiation and even decompression sickness to humans. This type of sickness is common to deep sea divers and is characterized by the presence of bubbles or air pockets in the bloodstream which could be fatal.