Why are some gases called "noble"?

Even if you are very far from chemistry, most likelyat least once in your life have you heard the expression “noble gases”. These include the well-known neon, krypton, argon, xenon, helium and radon. So why were gases called noble? And what exactly is their nobility? Let's try to figure it out together.

There are only 6 noble gases in nature: Neon, Krypton, Argon, Xenon, Helium and Radon

What are inert gases?

Noble gases known in chemistry forits unique property not to mix with other substances is also often called inert. As the name suggests, the “nobility” of inert gases does not allow them to interact with simpler substances and even with each other. Such selectivity of noble gases is caused by their atomic structure, which manifests itself in a closed external electron shell that does not allow radon, helium, xenon, argon, krypton and neon to exchange their electrons with atoms of other gases.

The most common inert gas in natureargon is considered, which occupies an honorable third place in the content in the Earth’s atmosphere after nitrogen and oxygen. Argon has no taste, smell, or color, but it is this gas that is considered one of the most common in the Universe. Thus, the presence of this gas is observed even in some planetary nebulae and in the composition of some stars.

When heated in a gas discharge tube, argon acquires a pink hue

The rarest noble gas in nature is consideredxenon, which, despite its rarity, is contained in the Earth’s atmosphere along with argon. Xenon has narcotic properties and is often used in medicine as an anesthetic. In addition, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency, inhalations of this rare gas have a doping effect that affects the physical condition of the athletes using it. Filling xenon of a person’s lungs leads to a temporary decrease in the tone of voice, which is the opposite effect of helium.

Xenon glows violet when heated

The four other noble gases are Radon,Helium, Neon and Krypton - also have their own unique properties. All of them do not have any specific taste, smell or color, however, they are present in the Earth’s atmosphere in small quantities and are important for our breathing. So, helium is considered one of the most common elements in space, and its presence in the atmosphere of the Sun, as part of other stars of the Milky Way and some meteorites is confirmed by scientific data.

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Neon glowing when heated reddisha shade, it is obtained from air during its deep cooling. Due to the relatively low concentration of this inert gas in the planet’s atmosphere, neon is most often obtained as a by-product of argon production.

Radon is a radioactive inert gas that canpose a danger to human health. Gaseous radon is able to glow with blue or blue light, gradually irradiating a person and even leading to cancer. Despite this, the so-called radon baths are often used in medicine, which can achieve a positive effect in the treatment of diseases of the central nervous system.

Radon Lake in the village of Lopukhinka, Leningrad Region

And finally, the last noble gas thatcan be found in nature - krypton. This is one of the rarest noble gases in the universe. Unlike other inert gases, under certain conditions, this gas can emit a pungent odor similar to that of chloroform. The impact of krypton on humans and animals has been little studied due to the incredible rarity of this gas.

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Where are the noble gases used?

The most inert gases used by humansArgon, helium and neon are considered, which are used everywhere from physics to medicine. So, helium is used in metal welding and as a coolant in laboratory experiments. Neon and argon are often used in the manufacture of incandescent lamps and in metallurgy, in the manufacture of aluminum alloys.

Due to its unique properties, noble gases have found their application in various fields of science

Other noble gases most oftenused in medicine. As mentioned above, radon finds its application in medicine, and xenon and krypton are used as filler for lighting lamps.