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Who Discovered Neon

Neon is one of the noble gases in the periodic table and is inert and stable in nature. This article tells us who should receive credit for all the fabulous neon signs that we see today.
Neon is a chemical element that is denoted as Ne, and carries an atomic number of 10. You may want to know who discovered this element and where this discovery was made. It was the year 1898, and the discovery of neon was made by two English chemists - Sir William Ramsay and Morris W. Travers. The name 'Neon' literally meant 'new one', as this was a gas that no one had seen or heard of, before this important chemistry discovery.

Neon is very rare on Earth (but commonly found in the universe), and this is why the people who discovered this element, deserve a lot of credit for their achievements. Neon is one of the noble gases in the periodic table, and is very inert and stable in nature. Neon is usually extracted from samples of air and used to light up neon lamps, advertising signs and discharge tubes due to the reddish-orange glow that emanates from it.

The Discovery of Neon
Ramsay and Travers were conducting experiments with many gases in their laboratory for a long period of time, and their discovery was an unexpected and inadvertent one. They cooled down a sample of air until it became a liquid, in order to find out what all gases composed the atmosphere.

After that the two chemists heated up the liquid slowly, and captured all the gases one by one as they escaped upon boiling. Nitrogen, oxygen and argon were the first three gases that showed themselves, and these were all known at the time. Then the noble gases krypton and xenon turned up, which were also known to man. Finally, a new gas became visible that no one had noticed before, and this was neon, the 'new one'.

The history of neon is not complete by simply knowing who discovered it, there is a deeper history that runs behind this element, and the uses to which it is put in today's world. A French engineer going by the name of Georges Claude used an electrified tube of neon to make a lamp in 1910. This brought neon's glowing properties to the world's attention and it became the rage to own a neon lamp. Advertising signs made of neon discharge tubes starting selling like hot cakes, and these were sold by close associates of Georges Claude. These neon advertising signs reached the United States of America by 1923, and took the market by storm as well.

Facts About Neon
Now that we know who discovered neon, let us see some interesting facts about this chemical element that make it so fascinating and useful to the human race. We have found ingenuous ways to make use of the various elements that can be found in nature, and neon the element, is no exception.
  • Neon is inert and does not react with most other chemical elements and compounds. However, the ions of neon are slightly reactive in nature, and neon does occasionally form some unstable hydrates.
  • The 5th most common element in the universe is neon, after hydrogen, helium, oxygen and carbon.
  • Neon is a monatomic gas.
  • Large amounts of neon are found in diamonds. This means that neon must have been abundant on Earth millions of years ago.
  • Neon is the second lightest noble gas.
  • Apart from advertising signs, neon is also used in vacuum tubes, helium-neon lasers, television tubes and high-voltage indicators.
As you may have noticed, neon is not that easy to find on Earth due to many reasons. All this means is that the two chemists who discovered it deserve more credit for their discovery. Without the discovery of neon, the world would have surely been a different place now.
By Rahul Thadani
Published: 5/6/2010
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