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How did hydrogen get its name?

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Quick Answer

When French scientist Antoine Lavoisier discovered that hydrogen was a necessary component in water in 1783, he named the element "hydrogen," derived from the Greek words "hydro" and "genes." Together, these two Greek words mean "water forming."

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Full Answer

Robert Boyle is credited with first producing hydrogen gas back in 1670, but it was in use as early as the 1500s. It wasn't recognized as an official element until Henry Cavendish classified it in 1766. Through experiments of many scientists, hydrogen went on to play a vital role in aspects such as chemical bonding.

Hydrogen has one proton and one electron. It is the simplest element in the world, and it comprises 90 percent of the known universe. The sun consists of primarily hydrogen and helium. In a process called nuclear fusion, hydrogen is converted to helium.

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