Noble Gas and Helium

Topics: Helium, Noble gas, Neon Pages: 6 (2119 words) Published: February 8, 2012
Although Helium exists in the atmosphere of Earth in small quantities, it is one of the most common element in the universe. It is a rare gas on earth. Helium was first discovered by Pierre Janssen in the spectrum of the sun during an eclipse in 1868. It was shortly identified as an element and was named by the chemist Sir Edward Frankland and the British astronomer Sir Joseph Norman Lockyer. Helium has an atomic number of 2 and an atomic weight of 4.002602. Helium is represented by the symbol of He. Helium is the second lightest element after Hydrogen and considered as the least reactive element. The more an element is reactive, the more flammable it is. It is considered a non-metal element with a number of 2 stable isotopes. It is a gas at room temperature with a density of 0.0001785 per cubic centimeter. Helium is an odorless, colorless, tasteless and nontoxic element. Natural gas is the major source of helium. The natural decay of alpha-emitting radioactive minerals in the Earth's crust creates helium and migrates to areas where gas is trapped. It is extracted from the gas by turning the gas stream into a liquid and by removing all other components. Helium is more abundant in space such as stars and nebulae because it enters the atmosphere and escapes into space due to its low molecular weight. Helium is one of the favorite and most known element world wide. This paper will inform you how Helium was discovered, how it is used today, how it is extracted and the different helium states.

Helium doesn’t react with any elements, including itself. It is so tiny that it is used to find microscopic leaks. How did we discover such a small and admirable element? In 1868, Pierre Janssen and Norman Lockyer were observing the spectral lines of the sun during a solar eclipse and they both found an unexpected yellow spectral line. Lockyer though that this line was caused by an element undiscovered on Earth up until now. It was naturally assumed that it was an element of the Sun. It was thus named Helium because of the name of the Greek sun god, Helios. A few decades later William Ramsey ( famous chemist who discovered heavy noble gases such as argon, neon, krypton and xenon) was shown a mineral called clevite. After heating clevite up, it produced a gas that thought to be Nitrogen but after a couple of days, Ramsey found out that it gave the exact same yellow spectral line that Janssen and Lockyer discovered. From this day, Helium had been discovered on Earth. Helium could now be added to the periodic table as a known element. A lot of scientists though that Helium had a potential to be a really useful element. They were not wrong. In today’s life, Helium is not just an “element”, it is also used in everyday life. Helium has many different uses. One use of helium that nobody know of is that helium is actually used in neon signs. Neon signs are not really neon all of the time. Neon is a specific color and noble gasses all burn at a different color. If the sign is blue then the neon is really argon. Inside of a neon sign tube, Helium burns a bright orange and red color. When used in sign tubes, the helium is being heated and a current is passing through it so that it produces a color. Helium is also used for party balloons. While inhaling Helium through a balloon, it will make anyone lightheaded and make their voice high pitched. Helium is also known for being non-toxic. Inhaling helium through a balloon is only bad because people get lightheaded with the lack of oxygen. It can cause a child to faint right after they take a big breath of helium. It would be just like if the person would hold their breath, they would pass out without getting enough oxygen into their body, not because of the helium. Objects that float in the air are filled with helium. Those objects include balloons and blimps. They are able to float because Helium is lighter than air. Hydrogen could be used to make such objects float but it is too dangerous and...

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“Chemical - Helium (He)." Chemical - An Interactive Periodic Table of the Elements. Web. 27 Oct. 2011. .
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