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The Wonderful World of Nitrogen In my recent search for an interesting chemical topic I was not finding too much and then I came across the chemical element called nitrogen Within a few short minutes I had found more interesting information about nitrogen than I had found on all the other elements combined As with most elements there is the good and the bad I will discuss both aspects of nitrogen starting with the bad and ending on a good note When I found out about this paper I was under the impression that its main purpose was to educate me about an unfamiliar subject I feel that this paper has educated me with every intent pointing toward personal growth The chemical element nitrogen is a colorless odorless gas Its chemical symbol is N its atomic number is 7 and its atomic weight is 140067 Nitrogen was discovered independently in 1772 by Daniel Rutherford in Scotland Joseph Priestly and Henry Cavendish in England and Carl Scheele in Sweden French chemist Antoine Lavoiser proved that nitrogen was in fact an element Nitrogen comes from the Greek words nitron and genes which had a meaning of salt-peter producing Nitrogen occurs quite often in nature as being the most abundant uncombined element on earth The air we breathe everyday is 7806 nitrogen gas by volume 755 by weight Nitrogen also occurs in the gases from volcanoes springs and mines The largest nitrogen containing material is sodium nitrate which is also called Chile saltpeter and Chile niter In an industrial setting over 25 million tons of nitrogen are recovered every year from liquefied air in a process known as fractional distillation Nitrogen gases move through the ecosystem by nitrogen fixation assimilation and biosyntheses decomposition ammonification and nitrification Fig 1 This movement through the ecosystem is known as the nitrogen cycle Such things as fertilizer and fossil fuel pollutants that increase soil acidity can affect the nitrogen
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