50 Essential Facts About Chemistry

The 50 facts that you MUST know on your way to becoming an expert chemist!

75% of the universe is hydrogen, the simplest and most common elementHydrogen
Hydrogen is extremely flammable and will easily explode
Water is made of hydrogen and oxygen, but it can quench fires
Henry Cavendish discovered hydrogen in 1766
The word hydrogen is Greek for "water creator", as burning it makes water
Helium is the second most common element, making almost 25% of matterHelium
Inhaling helium emphasises the higher-pitched tones in our voices
Helium was discovered after spectral analysis of sunlight in 1868
Because of that it was named after Helios, the Greek sun god
Helium is lighter than air and not flammable so it's used to fill airships
Oxygen, in air and water, is essential for complex life forms like animalsOxygen
Ozone is a type of oxygen formed by 3 rather than the usual 2 atoms
When oxygen was first discovered in 1774 it was named "dephlogisticated air"
Most of the oxygen in our air is produced by plants photosynthesising
Despite its name, oxidation doesn't necessarily involve oxygen
Carbon forms more compounds than any other elementCarbon
There are many carbon allotropes (forms) including diamonds and graphite
All life on Earth is based on carbon. Alien life may be different
Carbon has the highest melting point of all elements: 3,500 degrees Celsius
Carbon was "discovered" in 1789, but men were using it since ancient times
Neon is the 5th most abundant element in the universe but is rare on EarthNeon
When electrically charged neon gas emits a brilliant red-orange light
This made it useful for advertisers and in 1913 a large sign was set up in Paris
The name "neon" means "new" in ancient Greek
It was discovered in 1898 by Sir William Ramsay and Morris W Travers
Approximately 78% of the air we breathe is nitrogenNitrogen
Nitrogen is present in DNA and proteins so is essential for all living things
Nitrogen was named "azote", meaning "without life", by Antoine Lavoisier
Liquid nitrogen boils at -96 degrees Celsius. It has uses but is very dangerous
"The bends" happens when nitrogen bubbles form in the blood
If you pour water on a magnesium fire you make it worse. Hydrogen is madeMagnesium
Chlorophyl, essential for photosynthesis, contains magnesium
We need it too for 300 or so bodily functions
It was discovered in 1755 but was not isolated until 1808 by Humphrey Davy
It takes its name from the Magnesia region of Greece
Silicon is a metalloid. It behaves as a metal and a non-metalSilicon
Silicon is the second most abundant element on Earth after oxygen
Sand is made of silicon (silicon dioxide), and so is glass
Silicon has many uses as varied as microprocessors and medical implants
Jöns Jacob Berzelius discovered silicon in 1824. Its name means "flint carbon"
The Earth's core is made of iron. It generates our magnetic fieldIron
Iron reacts with oxygen and water to make rust, or iron oxide
We need iron to carry oxygen around our bodies
Iron's symbol is Fe, short for its Latin name, "ferrum"
People first discovered and started using iron as early as 5,000 BCE
Sulfur is also known as "brimstone" which means "stone that burns"Sulfur
It can be spelt as "sulphur" or "sulfur". The latter is always used in science
Sulfide compounds stink. They are in skunk scent and rotten eggs
Acid rain is caused by sulfur dioxide, a by-product of burning fossil fuels
We've known sulfur for millennia but it was not seen as an element until 1789

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