Facts About Oxygen

Oxygen, a colorless gas that is likewise recognized as Element Number 8 on the Periodic Table of Elements, is the most reactive out of the non-metallic elements and exists at atmospheric levels at about 21%.

As recorded by a NASA-funded study, oxygen has been present on the earth for approximately 2.3-2.4 billion years, and it first appeared in our atmosphere at least 2.5 billion years ago. Although it is not clear why oxygen abruptly became such an abundant element in the Earth’s atmosphere, but many assume it was largely due to geologic changes on Earth.

Oxygen has the atomic number 8, the atomic symbol O, and an atomic weight of 15.9994. As reported by the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, oxygen is the third most abundant element in the universe. Organisms that utilize oxygen to breathe, known as cyanobacteria, inhale carbon dioxide and exhale carbon dioxide through the process of photosynthesis, in the same way as modern-day plants. It is assumed that cyanobacteria are responsible for oxygen first appearing in the atmosphere, which is an event often called the Great Oxidation Event.

The photosynthesis of cyanobacteria was assumably happening long before a noteworthy amount of oxygen was accumulated in the earth’s atmosphere. A finding published in the journal Nature Geoscience in 2014 discovered that oxygen created from photosynthesis initiated in marine environments around half a billion years ago prior to it beginning to accumulate in the atmosphere about 2.5 billion years ago.

While the organisms on modern-day Earth rely heavily on oxygen, the beginning accumulation of this element in the atmosphere was somewhat ruinous. The change in the atmosphere resulted in a mass extinction of organisms that do not require oxygen, known as anaerobes. These anaerobes that could not survive in environments with oxygen started to die off.

The beginning signal to humans that oxygen was present in the atmosphere took place in 1608, when a Dutch inventor named Cornelius Drebbel, came to the conclusion that heating potassium nitrate caused the release of a gas. That gas remained unidentified until the 1770s, when [[three chemists began to uncover it at approximately the same time. Joseph Priestly, an English chemist was able to isolate oxygen by using sunlight to shine light on mercuric oxide and then collecting the gas that was produced as a result of the reaction. Preistly published this discovery in 1774, becoming the first scientist to actually publish these oxygen-related findings. Oxygen was given its name from the Greek words “oxy” nucleus and “genes,” which together mean “acid-forming.”

While the presence of too little oxygen can pose a threat, so can the presence of too much oxygen. For example, around 300 million years ago, the earth experienced atmospheric oxygen levels of 35% and insects grew to extreme sizes.

Oxygen is generated through the fusion of a carbon-12 and a helium-4 inside the hearts of stars. However, scientists have recently been able to to study the oxygen’s structure by looking at its nucleus. And in March of 2014, a physicist at North Carolina State University and his group discovered the nuclear structure of oxygen-16. This is relevant because it helps us understand the process of nuclei formation in stars.

A different group of researchers placed their focus on oxygen’s role in life on Earth. According to researchers at the University of Southern Denmark, animal life appeared long after the Great Oxidation Event, with simple animals making an appearance just around 600 million years ago. While many theorize that the existence of oxygen led to the existence of animals, animals were actually not around on Earth during the first notable appearance of oxygen levels in the atmosphere. [[On the contrary|Contrarily|On the other hand], it is believed that something other than the appearance of oxygen resulted in the first rise in animal life. While it may be true that increasing levels of oxygen led to varied and diversified ecosystems that exist today, there are still many modern-day animals that can survive in extremely low-oxygen areas in the ocean.

Whether you’re in search of oxygen or other specialty gases SYOXSA, Inc. has a wide variety of products to meet all of the El Paso specialty gas needs. SYOXSA, Inc. has a large selection of specialty gases and specialty gas equipment, along with the resources and experts on hand in El Paso to answer your questions and assist your needs. For more information, browse our online catalog or contact us via email at Esteban.Trejo@syoxsa.com or at 915-771-7674.