Why some gases are called “noble”?

Even if you are far away from chemicals, chances are you at least once in their lives have heard the expression “noble gases”. These include the well-known neon, krypton, argon, xenon, helium, and radon. So why gases were called noble? And what exactly is their generosity? Let’s try to understand together.

What are inert gases?

Noble gases, known in chemistry due to its unique property is not be mixed with other substances, also often called inert. As you can tell from the title, the “generosity” of inert gases does not allow them to interact with more simple substances and even with each other. This selectivity of noble gases due to their atomic structure, which is shown in a closed outer electron shell that do not allow radon, helium, xenon, argon, krypton, and neon to share their electrons with the atoms of other gases.

The most common inert gas in nature, consider argon, which occupies the third place in content in the Earth’s atmosphere after nitrogen and oxygen. The argon has no taste, odor and color, however, this gas is considered one of the most common in the Universe. Thus, the presence of this gas is observed in some planetary nebulae and in the composition of some stars.

When heated in a gas discharge tube argon takes on a pink hue

The rare noble gas xenon nature believe that despite its rarity, is contained in the Earth’s atmosphere along with the argon. Xenon has narcotic properties and is often used in medicine as anesthetic. In addition, according to the world anti-doping Agency, inhalation of this rare gas have a doping effect, affecting the physical condition of applying its athletes. Filling with xenon, the human lung leads to a temporary lowering of the voice timbre, which is the effect opposite to the use of helium.

When heated, xenon glows purple

The other four noble gases — radon, Helium, Neon and krypton also have their own unique characteristics. They do not have any specific taste, odor or color, but are present in the Earth’s atmosphere in small amounts and are important for our breathing. So, helium is considered to be one of the most abundant elements in space, and its presence in the atmosphere of the Sun, in other stars in the milky Way and some meteorites are confirmed by scientific data.

Neon glow when heated a reddish tinge, derived from air under his deep cooling. Because of the relatively small concentrations of this inert gas in the planet’s atmosphere, neon is the most commonly obtained as a by-product in the extraction of argon.

Radon — a radioactive inert gas, which may present a risk to human health. Gaseous radon is able to glow blue, or blue light, gradually irradiating the person and even leading to cancer. Despite this, the medicine is often used so-called radon baths, which allow you to achieve a positive effect in the treatment of diseases of the Central nervous system.

Radon lake in the village of Lopukhinka, Leningrad region

And finally, the last noble gas that you can find in nature — krypton. This is one of the rare noble gases in the Universe. Unlike other inert gases, this gas under certain conditions can emit a pungent smell similar to the smell of chloroform. Impact of krypton in man and animals are very little studied because of the incredible rarity of this gas.

Where applicable, the noble gases?

The man used inert gases are argon, helium and neon, which are used widely from physics to medicine. So, helium is used in welding of metals and as a coolant for laboratory experiments. Neon and argon are often used in the manufacture of incandescent lamps and in metallurgy, in the manufacture of aluminum alloys.

Due to its unique properties, noble gases have found their application in various branches of science.