All About Argon

Argon is an inert gas that is both colorless and odorless and that is grouped in the Noble gases.  Argon acquired its name from the Greek word for “lazy,” referring to its tendency to have low levels of reactivity when it comes to forming compounds. This gas is most regularly employed in welding and likewise used frequently in fluorescent lighting.

According to Chemicool, a large amount of the argon on Earth is the isotope argon-40, which is formed from the radioactive decay of potassium-40. Contrarily, argon in space is created from stars, that takes place when two hydrogen nuclei fuse with silicon-32, resulting in the isotope argon-36.

Argon, while inert, is not limited. Conversely, about 0.9 percent of the earth’s atmosphere is made up of this gas. According to calculations by Chemicool, this means there are around 65 million metric tons of argon in the atmosphere, and this number continues to increase as potassium-40 decays over time.

To detail a few of its traits, Argon (Ar) has the atomic number 18 and an atomic weight of 39.948. At room temperature, Argon is a gas.

The first discovery of argon occurred in in 1785 when Henry Cavendish, a British scientist, identified a segment of air that seemed especially inert. At first, Cavendish was unable to tell what this air was. This remained undetermined until over one hundred years later, when two men, Lord Rayleigh and Scottish chemist William Ramsey were able to accurately label and define the gas, which subsequently earned them the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for this discovery. In addition to this, studying argon’s elemental properties also led Ramsey to the discovery of helium, neon, krypton, and xenon.

Due to its inertness, argon is frequently used in industrial practices that necessitate for a non-reactive atmosphere. Likewise, argon works well as an effective insulator, leading to its common use in warming divers when deep-sea diving. Argon is likewise used in historical preservation and is pumped around valuable documents such as the Magna Carta and a world map that dates back all the way to 1507. Unlike oxygen and similar reactive elements, the argon preserves the paper and ink on these fragile documents.

Additionally, there are quite a few lesser-known utilizations for argon. For example, argon is used in neon lights that shine blue, since neon itself exudes an orange-red color. Also, argon is often employed in laser technology, including the lasers used in vision correction surgeries such as LASIK and PRK procedures. Argon has even been utilized to uncover contaminated groundwater in a few locations in the United States. In this case, argon and other noble gases were injected into wells where they infused with methane.

At the current time, there is a significant amount of research being done on argon to determine more potential uses of the gas. For example, it is right now being looked at as a possible alternative to the costly gas xenon and its function in treatment of brain injuries. Likewise, certain experiments have found that argon could at some point be employed to limit brain injuries that have occurred a result of oxygen deprivation or other traumatic incidents. A review published in the Medical Gas Research journal said that in several circumstances, treating injuries with argon considerably decreased the death of brain cells. Researchers are presently still not sure about why argon effects brain cells in this way. Until now, argon has been used in this research by either being applied directly to cells in a culture dish or administered along with oxygen in a facemask for animal studies. As argon research advances, it is turning increasingly likely that human trials will start eventually. However, it seems that there are likely risks involved with argon treatment, thus more research must be conducted until this practice can be applied.

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