Oxygen facts huh? Don’t ignore them. You might find them handy any moment. More importantly, oxygen is something that keeps us alive. So, this element does deserve some respect. Did you know that oxygen levels in Earth’s atmosphere started increasing some 2.5 billion years ago? We don’t claim this. That’s what a study funded by NASA says.
The reason for the sudden increase in the levels of this gas in Earth’s atmosphere is not precisely known even to scientists but they do think that instead of oxygen being consumed in geological reactions, oxygen was actually produced by organisms that stuck around and participated in photosynthesis.
Whatever the reason be for the sudden rise in the levels of this gas, we should be glad because it is one of the prime factors that keep life humming on this blue orb that we call home. So, in honor of this gas, we are going to learn 15 facts about it and find out a few things about what it really is and how it behaves.
Oxygen Facts You Must Know: 1-5
1. Oxygen is the 8th element in period table. Yes, it is an element and not a compound.
2. The atomic number of oxygen is 8. What is atomic number? It refers to the number of protons that are present in the nucleus of an atom of an element. So, there are 8 protons in a nucleus of an oxygen atom.
3. They symbol use to denote oxygen in the period table is O. That’s the letter O. It is not 0 (Zero).
4. In every cubic centimeter of space, you will find 0.001429 grams of oxygen. This is the density of the element.
5. The average mass of an oxygen atom stands at 15.9994. This mass is referred to as the Atomic Weight.
Oxygen Facts You Must Know: 6-10
6. At room temperature, an element can exist in form of a gas or a solid or a liquid. This is known as the phase of the element. In case of oxygen, the phase is gas. That means, at room temperature, oxygen is always available in form of gas only.
7. Do you think only solids melt? You are wrong. Even gases can melt. Thus, oxygen can melt. There is a problem however. We know that solids can melt into liquids. But gases? When we say that a gas melts, we actually mean that the phase of the element changes from gas to liquid straightaway. The temperature at which oxygen changes phase from gas to liquid (or loosely speaking, it melts) is minus 218.79 degrees Celsius or minus 361.82 degrees Fahrenheit.
8. Just like the melting point (loosely speaking), oxygen also has a boiling point. It boils at a temperature of minus 182.95 degrees or minus 297.31 degrees Fahrenheit.
9. We know that elements have atoms. Atoms have neutrons, protons and electrons. It may happen that the number of neutrons in different atoms of the same element may differ. That’s when we say that the element has taken a different form and that form is known as isotopes. Oxygen too has isotopes. There are 11 isotopes of oxygen. The most commonly found isotope is O-16, which is the most abundant form of naturally occurring isotopes of oxygen.
10. We know that plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. But did you know that there are organisms which inhale carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen. Those organisms are known as Cyanobacteria. Scientists think that Cyanobacteria were responsible for bringing oxygen on earth. That event goes by the name Great Oxidation Event.
Oxygen Facts You Must Know: 11-15
11. Oxygen in its gas phase is actually odorless and colorless gas. However, turn it into liquid and the color will change to pale blue.
12. Too little oxygen will push us closer to death. However, did you know that too much of oxygen will do the same. In case you breathe in air which has 80% oxygen for say, about 12 hours, your respiratory tract will not only be irritated but will also have fluid buildup, which may eventually cause death.
13. We are lucky that the oxygen concentration in our atmosphere is at 21%. Nearly 300 million years ago, the level was as high as 35%. That’s when insects grew super large. How big? How about a dragon fly which is big enough to have wingspan same as that of hawks that we see today?
14. Oxygen molecules are really tough. One oxygen molecule can nicely survive the pressure equivalent to 19 million times the pressure exerted by our atmosphere.
15. Wondering whether you can swim in a pool filled with liquid oxygen? Hell yes! One problem though. You will get frostbites because the temperature of liquid oxygen is minus 218.79 degrees Celsius!