Tag Archive: Oxygen

Sep 10 2012

Pique the Geek 20120909: Oxygen Wrapup

Last time we discussed oxygen as an element, including why we do not burst into flame in our 21% oxygen atmosphere.  Quantum mechanics can really be interesting.

This time we shall discuss some of the compounds of oxygen with other elements, and I emphasize SOME because oxygen forms hundreds of thousands if not millions of compounds.

Some of these compounds are essential industrial materials, some are essential for biological processes, and some of them can cause real problems when released into the atmosphere.  A few of them are quite toxic.  Let us look into them!

Sep 03 2012

Pique the Geek 20120902: Why we do not burst into flame — Oxygen

Oxygen is one of the most fascinating elements for many reasons.  Before we get to it, I first want to point out that the column of the periodic table that starts with nitrogen are called pnictogens, whislt the column starting with oxygen are called chalcogens.  The term pnictogen is recent, dating form the 1950s.  It comes from the Greek plural noun pnikta which means something on the order of “those that are suffocated” in reference to the fact that nitrogen will not support life.  The “gen” part is from the Greek gonos, “born” or “generated”.

Chalcogen comes from the ancient Greek chalkos, meaning “ore” and gonos, and in fact an extremely large number of metal ores contain oxygen or sulfur of both.  Selenium and tellurium are chalcogens that are often found in gold and silver ores.

Time before last we discussed nitrogen and molecular orbital diagrams for it.  If you are not hip to MO diagrams, I suggest you read that part of the link before you try to tackle the MO diagrams for oxygen.