Chemistry is all around us! That's why learning about chemistry shouldn't just be for high school students. From simple chemical reactions like cooking food to the elements present in the air we breathe, chemistry is essential to life. But what do you really know about chemistry? It's a broad discipline, so it can be hard to know where to start. Don't worry, though – sometimes all you need is to learn a few new facts to spark your interest! That’s why we created this list of 8 chemistry facts. Check out all the fascinating details below!
#1 Oxygen Is Blue.
This one might surprise you! You probably already know that as gas, oxygen is odorless, colorless, and invisible to the naked eye. However, in its liquid and solid forms, oxygen appears pale blue in color.
#2 Nuclear Bomb Tests Can Help Identify Forged Wine Bottles.
Certain rare wine bottles sell for huge sums of money, so collectors want to be sure that what they're buying is authentic. Surprisingly, nuclear bomb tests offer a way to help. The nuclear bomb tests that went on from the 1940s to 1963 increased the amount of carbon 14 (or C-14) in the atmosphere significantly. Some of this radioactive carbon was absorbed by grapes. By comparing the level of carbon 14 (radioactive carbon) to the ever-present carbon isotope, carbon 12, it’s possible for scientists to accurately determine the true age of a wine. The device used for the process is called an accelerator mass spectrometer. It’s expensive, so the process isn’t practical for everyday use, but it can help identify whether an expensive vintage bottle being sold at auction is authentic or a forgery.
#3 There Is Only One Letter That Doesn’t Appear in the Periodic Table.
As you may remember from chemistry class, the Periodic Table of Elements is pretty extensive. However, there is one letter that is not represented. Which one, you ask? It’s the letter “j” – feel free to check if you’d like! “J” was used in the past; it appeared in Mendeleev’s Periodic Table as the symbol for the element “jod” – the term used for the element iodine in Mendeleev’s version. While a few countries still refer to iodine this way, the international element symbol for iodine is “I” and that’s how it appears in the IUPAC Periodic Table. If you checked carefully, you may have also noticed that the letter “q” is absent, too – or is it? “Q” does not appear in any official element names, but it is used in the extended Periodic Table, which includes undiscovered elements. For example, “Q” was used in the temporary name of element 114, ununquadium, and it is still in use as part of the placeholder name and symbol for element 124, unbiquadium (Ubq).
#4 Astatine Is the Rarest Element That Occurs Naturally in Earth’s Crust.
It’s fitting that astatine gets its name from the Greek word for unstable (astatos), because it has a maximum half-life of only 8.1 hours. Astatine is a naturally occurring semi-metal that is produced when uranium and thorium decay. The entirety of the Earth’s crust contains just 28 grams of it! This makes it the rarest naturally occurring element in the Earth’s crust.
#5 Lighting Strikes Produce Ozone, Which in Turn Produces That Distinctive Scent.
Ever wondered why the air has that distinctive smell after a lightning storm? When lighting strikes, it cracks oxygen molecules in the atmosphere into radicals, which reform into the triple oxygen molecule known as ozone. The newly created ozone is what produces the sharp, clean-smelling scent that you smell after a lightning storm.
#6 Only 2 Metals Lack a Silvery Shine.
Metals shine because they reflect light rays. Most elementary metals reflect all of the photons that hit them evenly, so the reflected light does not have a visible color aside from whiteish-silver. However, gold and copper are different. That’s because the electrons in gold and copper atoms absorb blue and violet light. The metals then reflect the remaining red and yellow part of the light spectrum, which is why they appear the way that they do! Cesium is another metal that has a unique, silvery-gold hue. It is sometimes classified as the third non-silvery metal and the science behind why it appears the way that it does is similar to gold and copper!
#7 Metallic Money Doesn’t Really Have a Smell.
Many people consider coins to have a particular smell. However, metallic money doesn’t actually have a scent. What you are smelling is the scent produced by volatile compounds. These volatile compound form when organic substances (such as human sweat) come into contact with the metal surface of a coin.
#8 Chemical Reactions on Saturn and Jupiter Can Make It Rain Diamonds.
Although they haven’t gathered visual evidence yet, scientists say that the chemistry adds up: it can rain diamonds on Saturn and Jupiter. How? It starts when lightning storms on these gaseous planets turn methane into carbon soot. As the carbon soot falls through the atmosphere, the high levels of pressure present on these planets causes it to turn into graphite. As the graphite continues to fall into the deeper atmosphere of these planets, the immense pressure there squeezes the carbon-based graphite into diamonds. Scientists believe these diamonds then float in seas of liquid methane and hydrogen before eventually sinking to the planetary core. There, the ultra-strong pressure and heat present at the center of both planets melts the diamonds into molten carbon.
Want to learn more fascinating chemistry facts? Then check out this video!
Still not enough? Learn more about the world around you with our article about water or explore the universe with our article about space!