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Why is hydrogen important?

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Quick Answer

Hydrogen is important because it is involved in the process of enzyme catalysis and because it stabilizes things like nucleic acids and proteins. Hydrogen bonds with many different elements to form compounds.

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Why is hydrogen important?
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Full Answer

Hydrogen is made of three different isotopes. Ordinary hydrogen is called protium. The second isotope is called deuterium and the third is called tritium. Hydrogen is the most basic of all the elements because it contains one proton and one electron.

Although scientists had been producing hydrogen for years, they never really knew what it was. It was discovered to be an element in 1766 by Henry Cavendish. Its name is derived from the Greek words "hydro" and "genes" and together these words mean "water forming."

Today, scientists know that hydrogen is the most abundant element on Earth. It is the lightest of all gases and is odorless, colorless and nontoxic. Hydrogen is important because it offers Earth another fuel source and may free the Earth from using fossil fuels someday. It is currently used as a gas and liquid for many different industries and is often used to provide electricity in the fuel cells of automobiles or in internal combustion engines. NASA used hydrogen to power the space shuttles.

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