Hydrogen Chalkboard
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Element Rebus for Hydrogen


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Let's start our tour of the periodic table with hydrogen (H). Why start with hydrogen? Hydrogen is the first element in the periodic table and the most basic and common of all elements in the Universe. Scientists use the letter "H" to represent hydrogen in chemical equations and descriptions.

Over ninety percent of all the atoms in the Universe are hydrogen atoms. By mass, hydrogen makes up about 75% of all matter in the Universe. Hydrogen atoms are also the smallest and lightest of all the atoms with only one electron and one proton in a common single hydrogen atom (called protium).

Although it has been around forever (possibly the first element to ever form), it took a chemist named Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier to name it in 1783. The name hydrogen comes from the Greek word "hydro" which means water (H2O) and the word "genes" which means creator. Lavoisier showed that hydrogen was in all water molecules after discovering that water was created when hydrogen burned in air.

In addition to water, you can find hydrogen closer to home in every organism, blowtorches, and low temperature freezing processes. Farther away from home, you will find it in all stars, including the nuclear reactions that power the Sun.

Where is Hydrogen Found?

Cartoon image of welder working.


Sometimes you see someone working with a blowtorch to cut or welding to bring things together. Those processes need gases that can burn very hot. In welding, electricity splits hydrogen molecules and when the atoms recombine, huge amounts of heat are released.
Cartoon image of the sun.

The Sun

One of the elements that makes the sun burn so brightly is hydrogen. While hydrogen burns really easily on Earth, the burning hydrogen on the Sun and other stars is the result of nuclear reactions that rely on istotopes of hydrogen.
Cartoon image of hydrogen fuel being pumped into a rocket.

Rocket Fuel

Hydrogen is awesome as a rocket fuel because of all of the energy released. The hydrogen is compressed into a liquid form(H2) and stored in tanks. It is combined with liquid oxygen (O2) to create the most efficient reaction and release of energy.
Cartoon image of a plant and flower.

Plants and Sugars

Hydrogen is in all plants and living things in general. Sure we all have water, but there are also sugars generated through plant photosynthesis. That's why animals eat plants... For the sugars and energy-filled compounds.

Related Links
Chem4Kids: Periodic Table
Chem4Kids: Atoms
Chem4Kids: Compounds
Chem4Kids: Oxygen
Chem4Kids: Fusion Reactions
Geography4Kids: Hydrosphere
Geography4Kids: Solar Radiation

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