Difference between revisions of "Oxygen"

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(substantial rewrite to get closer to, um, reality.)
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Oxygen is a chemical [[element]] vital for life. Under normal conditions it is a colorless odorless [[gas]] consisting of two oxygen [[atom|atoms]] which has the chemical formula O<sub>2</sub>. This means it is diatomic.
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'''Oxygen''' is a chemical [[element]]. Its atomic number, and hence the number of [[proton]]s and [[electron]]s it contains, is 8, and its atomic mass is slightly under 16, since it also has 8 [[neutron]]s (a slight amount of mass is "lost" in the energy contianed in the subatomic bonds).
  
Approximately 20% of the [[atmosphere]] is made up of oxygen.
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Under [[normal condition]]s it is a colorless, odorless [[gas]] consisting of two oxygen [[atom|atoms]] which has the chemical formula O<sub>2</sub>. This means it is diatomic.  Approximately 20% of the [[atmosphere]] is made up of oxygen.  Oxygen also forms a triatomic molecule called [[ozone]] (O<sub>3</sub>), which although unstable under normal conditions, is a very important ingredient in the upper atmosphere.
  
Oxygen in a concentrated form is explosive.  It is the component of all [[combustion]] reactions and produces [[carbon dioxide]].
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Oxygen is highly reactive, and in many other elements and compounds undergo [[exothermic reaction]]s with it (they [[combustion|burn]] or rust).  If it were not for its continual replenishment as a waste product of plant [[photosynthesis]], the atmospheric oxygen would disappear, forming compounds with other chemicals at the earth's surface.
  
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Many animals depend upon oxygen as a highly efficient ingredient for breaking down food for energy, due to its reactivity.  Those that do not are called "anaerobic", meaning "without air", and include many important bacteria.
  
 
[[Category:Chemistry]]
 
[[Category:Chemistry]]

Revision as of 18:12, 17 April 2007

Oxygen is a chemical element. Its atomic number, and hence the number of protons and electrons it contains, is 8, and its atomic mass is slightly under 16, since it also has 8 neutrons (a slight amount of mass is "lost" in the energy contianed in the subatomic bonds).

Under normal conditions it is a colorless, odorless gas consisting of two oxygen atoms which has the chemical formula O2. This means it is diatomic. Approximately 20% of the atmosphere is made up of oxygen. Oxygen also forms a triatomic molecule called ozone (O3), which although unstable under normal conditions, is a very important ingredient in the upper atmosphere.

Oxygen is highly reactive, and in many other elements and compounds undergo exothermic reactions with it (they burn or rust). If it were not for its continual replenishment as a waste product of plant photosynthesis, the atmospheric oxygen would disappear, forming compounds with other chemicals at the earth's surface.

Many animals depend upon oxygen as a highly efficient ingredient for breaking down food for energy, due to its reactivity. Those that do not are called "anaerobic", meaning "without air", and include many important bacteria.