25 Interesting Facts about Gases on Earth

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1Oxygen catastrophe

Around 2.5 billion years ago, the Oxygen catastrophe occurred, where the first microbes producing oxygen using photosynthesis created so much free oxygen that it wiped out most organisms on the planet because they were used to living in minimal oxygenated conditions.


2. Helium (He) is the only element on the periodic table that was not discovered on the earth. It was found when analyzing the sun’s spectrum, hence its name which comes from the Greek god of the sun Helios.


3. Chlorine Trifluoride was so dangerous that the Nazis refused to use it. Due to its unstableness, the chemical was unfit for weaponization. The chemical burned at over 2000°C and was able to melt bunkers, tanks, and burn entire cities.


4. Natural gas is odorless. The smell we experience comes from a harmless chemical called mercaptan, first ordered by the Texas Legislature in 1937 to be put into gas so that people could smell a leak. This law was introduced after the worst school disaster in US history occurred from a gas explosion in New London killing nearly 300.


5. 50 to 85% of the oxygen on Earth comes from the ocean, mainly from phytoplankton.


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6Xenon

The noble gas Xenon can be used as a near-perfect general anesthetic. It works fast, has minimal side effects, protects your brain, is environmentally friendly, and can be used at normal air pressure. The only downside is it's expensive and can't be synthesized.


7. When helium is cooled to almost absolute zero, the lowest temperature possible, it becomes a liquid with surprising properties. It can flow against gravity and will start running up and over the lip of a glass container.


8. Breathing 100% pure oxygen for more than 16 hours can lead to irreversible lung damage, damage to the retinas, and eventually, death.


9. Radon (a radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer) baths exist in the town of Khmilnyk, Ukraine. They advertise to treat a host of medical conditions and around 50,000 people a year use them.


10. Too much carbon dioxide in a crowded room can make you dumber.


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11Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide is used in the USA to make meat appear fresher. This practice is banned in Canada, Japan, Singapore, and the European Union.


12. The air used in bags of chips is actually Nitrogen, which keeps the chips from going stale.


13. In 2014, Chlorine gas was released in a Hyatt Regency hotel, Illinois hosting a FurFest convention, injuring 19 people. The apparent chemical attack is unsolved, and the source of the chlorine is still unknown.


14. When Radon gas in American homes was discovered, nuclear plant employees were tested for radiation and one of them was more radioactive when he came to work in the morning than when he left in the evening.


15. Mustard gas led to chemotherapy. During a World War 2 air raid, German pilots hit an American ship which had a secret stockpile of mustard gas. Doctors noticed that the gas suppressed cell division, which could fight cancer.


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16Nitrous oxide

Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, was first used as a recreational party drug by Britain's wealthy class in the 1700s before it was ever utilized for medical reasons.


17. There is a gas named Diazomethane that is so volatile that it can explode if it comes in contact with sharp edges.


18. Due to the exceptionally large amount of ethylene given off by a ripening banana, a banana put into a closed container with green tomatoes will turn them red overnight.


19. There is a gas called sulfur hexafluoride that produces the opposite effect of helium by drastically deepening your voice when inhaled.


20. Nitrogen trifluoride is a greenhouse gas not regulated by the Kyoto Protocol, but has a global warming potential 17,200 times greater than carbon dioxide. It is released during the manufacturing of flat-panel screens.


21Hydrogen sulfide

Hydrogen sulfide, the gas that gives flatulence its repulsive smell, can help reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer and help stave off dementia.


22. Sulfur dioxide (the primary component of acid rain) released from coal-fired power plants is being used to make synthetic gypsum and can be found in 30% of drywall produced today.


23. Over 50% of the Nitrogen in our bodies originated from the Haber Process, which was invented in the early 1900s to synthetically create ammonia fertilizer from atmospheric Nitrogen and allowed the global population to grow from 1.6 to 7 billion people.


24. 90%-95% of the methane released by cows comes out of their mouths, while only 5%-10% is released in the form of manure and flatulence.


25. Radon gas may predict earthquakes. One study showed that there were unusual changes in the density of radon gas in Japan’s atmosphere prior to the country’s catastrophic March 11 earthquake and the Hanshin earthquake in 1995.

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