How was nitrogen named?


Quick Answer

Nitrogen takes its name from the Greek language; the words "nitron" and "genes" combine to form "forming saltpeter." Daniel Rutherford, a Scottish scientist, discovered nitrogen in 1772 and gave it its name.

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Full Answer

The most significant use of nitrogen is for the creation of ammonia; it comprises about 78 percent of the atmosphere of the Earth, with about 4 quadrillion tons of nitrogen floating in the air. Processors use fractional distillation to extract nitrogen from liquefied air.

As a gas, nitrogen is mostly inert and is used in protective applications within soldering, welding and facilitating the manufacture of semiconductors. Liquid nitrogen has applications in performing experiments at extremely low temperatures, preserving biological samples and refrigerating a number of items.

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