Nitrogen is the major constituent of Earth's atmosphere, so it is, in a way, exactly as heavy as air. Though nitrogen makes up the bulk of the atmosphere by volume, almost 21 percent of the air is composed of molecular oxygen. To determine nitrogen's weight relative to air, it is important to determine whether the nitrogen in the atmosphere is lighter or heavier than the oxygen.Continue Reading
Atom for atom, nitrogen is lighter than oxygen. Nitrogen has an atomic weight of just over 14, while oxygen has an atomic weight of almost 16. An admixture of oxygen and nitrogen should be heavier than nitrogen alone.
Atomic weight is not the final determinant; however, as the term "heavier than air" is usually taken to mean "more dense." If nitrogen has a higher density than oxygen, it should sink in the presence of oxygen regardless of its atomic or molecular mass. In this case, the specific gravity of molecular nitrogen is 0.9669, and the equivalent figure for oxygen is 1.1044. Dividing nitrogen's figure by that of oxygen yields a ratio of just over 0.875:1. Molecular oxygen is heavier and denser than nitrogen by itself, and pure nitrogen can be expected to float in its presence.Learn more about Atoms & Molecules
One interesting fact regarding the chemical element argon is that an estimated 65 trillion metric tons of argon is present in Earth's atmosphere, as claimed by one of the element's discover, Lord Rayleigh. Argon was jointly discovered in 1894 by Scottish chemist William Ramsay and English physicist John William Strut, otherwise known as Lord Rayleigh.Full Answer >
Xenon is found in its natural form in the Earth's atmosphere, which contains about one part in 20 million of xenon gas. Xenon is a noble, or inert, gas that is odorless and colorless.Full Answer >
Argon is found in the Earth's atmosphere; it is also present in some potassium minerals due to the radioactive decay of isotope potassium-40. It is not found in compounds.Full Answer >
Argon occurs naturally in the Earth's atmosphere and people source it by taking the liquid air and putting it through fractionation. The total argon in the atmosphere is only about 0.94 percent volume, making it the most prevalent noble gas.Full Answer >