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Last time we talked about the unusual properties of elemental nitrogen mostly and how stable it is.  We only touched on a little of the fascinating and extremely complex chemistry of nitrogen, ONCE we can get it in a form other than the incredibly stable elemental form.

This time we shall remedy this, although entire graduate level texts have been written on the subject.  Tonight we shall take a brief survey of the impact that nitrogen has on living organisms, industry, and a few other areas.  We shall attempt to do this by looking at various oxidation states, and nitrogen has more than any other element.

The basic concept is that atoms can either donate or accept electrons from other atoms.  When an atom donates electrons, it is oxidized, and when it accepts electrons it is reduced.  Thus, chlorine bleach works because hypochlorite ion is a strong oxidizing agent and breaks up large, colored molecules to smaller, colorless ones.

Nitrogen can have eight oxidation states, including 5+ (having lost five electrons), 4+, 3+, 2+, 1+, 0, 1- (having gained an electron), 2-, and 3-.  This makes for an extremely rich chemistry potentially possible, and nitrogen does not disappoint.  How do atoms gain or lose electrons?  Actually, they really do not except in solution, but this is a convenient bookkeeping fiction that allows us to account for electrons.

Apart from using electrical currents, atoms gain or lose electrons for the resulting molecule or ion to gain stability over the previous state.  In first and second row elements, all atoms are more stable when either two electrons (for the first row) or eight electrons (for the second row) are around them.  This is a result of quantum mechanical reasons, but was known long before quantum mechanics were developed.  This is not always the case, but is very often the case.

Atoms can either share electrons equally or one atom can have greater electron density than another.  The former case is usually when two or more of the same kind of atoms are involved, and the latter when two or more different kinds of atoms are involved.  The degree to which electrons are more greedily held by a given atom is called the electronegativity of the atom.  This scale, originally developed by the brilliant American chemist Linus Pauling, ranges from 0.7 to 3.98 (originally 4.0, but now more refined).  Elements with low numbers readily give up electrons, elements with high numbers readily accept electrons, and elements with numbers in the middle can do either, depending on circumstances.

Nitrogen comes in at 3.04, and only three elements (oxygen at 3.44, fluorine at 3.98, and chlorine at 3.16) have greater electronegativities.  Let us look at the very common nitrogen compound ammonia, NH3.  Hydrogen has an electronegativity of 2.20, so we would expect for it to donate electrons to the nitrogen.  It does, but a considerable amount of electron density remains around the hydrogens since the difference in electronegativities is only 0.84.  Thus each hydrogen, a first row element, has some electron density with two electrons (each hydrogen shares electron density with nitrogen which has three electrons to participate) and nitrogen, a second row element has electron density with eight electrons (nitrogen has three valence electrons and a lone pair for a total of five), giving each atom the needed number for stability.

In our accounting system we would say that hydrogen has an oxidation state of +1 (being one electron short) and nitrogen has an oxidation state of -3 (having three extra electrons).  As I said, this is just bookkeeping because nitrogen only has PART of the electron density from hydrogen.  But it makes it easy for chemists to "push" electrons to make chemical reactions make sense.

Now let us look at nitrate ion, NO31-.  This ion has an overall charge of negative one, as shown by the superscript, and must be associated with other, positive ions in the solid state to provide an overall neutral material (otherwise electrostatic repulsion would cause the mass to fly apart).  Doing the accounting, we see that it is not really that easy like it is in ammonia.  Here is a diagram showing the Lewis dot structure of nitrate.

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These resonance structures represent the three bonding situations betwixt three oxygens and one nitrogen.  Note the double headed arrow:  it denotes that none of the structures shown are reality, but that the actual result is a superposition of all three.  Since all of the structures are identical except for which oxygen is involved (in this ion all of the atoms are in the same plane, what we call a trigonal planar arrangement) so that there are no geometrical differences, all three structures contribute equally.  But where does the extra electron arise?  It comes from either hydrogen (in nitric acid) or a metal ion (the ammonium ion also counts, as in ammonium nitrate).

Now we count electrons and assign oxidation states.  Remember, oxygen has a higher electronegativity than nitrogen, so for our bookkeeping nitrogen is losing one or more electrons and oxygen is gaining it (or them).  Nitrogen has, as an atom, five electrons with which to fool around, and oxygen has six.  To get all three atoms "happy" (sharing eight electrons each) we have four atoms and 23 electrons, but we need 24.  That is why the counterion contributes one.  For hydrogen, ammonium, and the alkali metals, with lower (for hydrogen) and much lower (for ammonium and the alkali metals), they are "glad" to contribute a significant amount of their single, outer electron density to gain stability.  That makes nitrogen have a 5+ oxidation state overall because all five of its outer electrons, including its lone pair, are involved in bonding with oxygen.

Nitrates are extremely important in industry and agriculture.  They are mostly produced synthetically from Haber ammonia, but mining still occurs in some parts of the world, notably Chile.  Nitrogen is essential for protein and nucleic acid formation, and nitrate is a soluble form that plants can assimilate readily.  The champion for nitrogen content in fertilizer is ammonium nitrate, since both ammonium ion and nitrate are highly water soluble and easily taken up by plants.

In industry, nitrates are used as oxidizing agents for many processes, particularly explosives.  Ammonium nitrate is used in blasting, usually mixed with fuel oil since it has more oxygen than in needs and the fuel oil contributes to the output.  These explosives are rather insensitive to initiation and so are relatively safe to handle.  Potassium nitrate is a key component in black powder, now a niche use.

Cured meats use nitrate to help preserve it, but there is more to it than that.  This brings up nitrite ion, NO21+, still with an overall 1+ charge.

Here is a diagram of this ion.  Note that only two oxygens are bonded to the nitrogen and that the ion is not as symmetric as the nitrate ion.  Not shown in the diagram is the lone pair of electrons on the nitrogen, and they are located above the nitrogen.  In this case only three electrons enter into bonding with oxygen, so the oxidation state of the nitrogen is 3+.

Photobucket

Some nitrate is reduced to nitrite when meat is treated with nitrate, and it is really the nitrite that does the heavy lifting in meat preservation (other then the large amount of regular salt in many cured meats).  It turns out that nitrite is a specific inhibitor of Clostridium botulinim, the bacterium responsible for the most severe form of food poisoning, botulism.  The word botulism comes from the Latin botulus, "sausage".  Nitrites also give off some nitric oxide (we talked about that last week) and it combines with the heme group on the myoglobin (one of the major proteins in muscle) and gives ham that nice pink color.

Those of you who barbeque may have noticed a pink layer in meat that has been smoked.  This is also caused by nitric oxide, this time produced by the combustion of some nitrogenous compounds in the wood used to produce the smoke.  Nitrite is fairly toxic and in the US residual nitrite in commercial meats is limited by regulation to 200 parts per million or less.  Use caution when home curing meat and do not exceed the recommendations on the curing product.  There is another problem with nitrite and that it can combine with amino acids in proteins at high temperatures to form nitrosamines, known human carcinogens.  So be sure not to burn your weenies or blacken your bacon when you cook them.

Actually, nitrites are not necessary for bacon, hot dogs, and other "cured" meats that are kept under refrigeration.  Those meats are not really cured at all, but rather flavored with dilute amounts of curing materials and usually smoked.  We enjoy them because for generations we have become accustomed to the flavor of the curing agents.  Meat that is truly cured is quite dry and very salty, but it will keep for months or years without refrigeration.  I have noticed on TeeVee adverts the past couple of weeks that a major producer of lightly treated meat products has introduced a line of them without nitrate nor nitrite that they call "uncured".  They are still flavored with salt, some sugar, and smoke but will not produce nitrosamines when overcooked.

Let me see if I can think of an example of each oxidation state of nitrogen without looking any up in a book.  We already did 5+ and 3+, so let me think of a 4+ one.  Sure enough, it is nitrogen dioxide (NO2), an important air pollutant formed when atomospheric nitrogen is partially oxidized, as in internal combustion engines.  It has a very interesting structure, since it is a rather stable free radical (having one unpaired electron).  Molecules with a single unpaired electron are called doublets because of their spectral characteristics.  Here is a sketch that I made:

Photobucket

Each oxygen has six valence electrons to use to make the molecule and the nitrogen only five.  That gives 17 electrons overall, and these resonance structures come as close to eight electrons around the nitrogen as possible, with seven.  The oxygens both have eight.  Many molecules with unpaired electrons are colored, and nitrogen dioxide a brownish red.

For nitrogen in the 2+ oxidation state, nitric oxide (NO) about which we spoke last week is one.  Here is a sketch of its structure.

Photobucket

Unlike nitrogen dioxide, nitric oxide is colorless.  It is also highly reactive, forming nitrogen dioxide on contact with air.  It is also a doublet.  Please refer to the comments last week about uses for nitric oxide.

An example of nitrogen in the 1+ oxidation state is nitrous oxide, (N2O) about which we also spoke last time.  There are two ways to draw valid structures, but only one set fits with experimental evidence.  Here are the two possibilities:

Photobucket

The single structure at the top is a perfectly good Lewis dot structure, but spectroscopic data on nitrous oxide indicate that the molecule is less symmetric, so the only structure that fits the facts is the resonance structure below.  Each nitrogen contributes five electrons and oxygen six, so there are 16 electrons to place.  Sure enough, nitrous oxide is an even numbered species, fairly stable, and colorless.

Nitrogen in the 0 oxidation state is easy.  Elemental nitrogen, with a structure given last time, fits the description.

Now, for nitrogen in the negative oxidation states it is necessary for it to bond with atoms of lower electronegativity.  The thiocyanate ion is kind of sort of an example of nitrogen in the 1- state.  Here is a sketch:

Photobucket

The resonance structure on the left shown nitrogen in the 1- state, but the one on the right has it in the 0 oxidation state.  The one on the left is the major contributor, because sulfur has an electronegativity of only 2.58, so in comparison with nitrogen is much less suited to carry the negative charge.  Chemistry can get sort of complicated!

OK, I struck out trying to think of nitrogen in the 2- oxidation state.  I bet that someone out there can supply an example!

We already talked about ammonia, where nitrogen is in the 3- oxidation state last time.  There is no reason to repeat that.

Hey, not bad for coming up with examples for seven of the eight oxidation states for nitrogen off of the top of my head!  Chemistry is a love for me.

The reason for going to the trouble to give examples of the different oxidation states of nitrogen is that because of the facility of going from one state to another nitrogen is uniquely suited to enter into reactions that are extremely important to biological (and industrial) processes.  Often it can go from one oxidation state to another, and in a final step be returned to the original one.  Without this ability, life as we know it would be quite impossible.

Well, you have done it again!  You have wasted many more einsteins of perfectly good photons reading this gaseous piece.  And even though Romney realizes that he was blowing a dog whistle rather than making a lighthearted joke when he let the crack about no one asking for his birth certificate when he reads me say it, I always learn much more than I could possibly hope to teach when I write this series, so please keep comments, questions, corrections, and other feedback coming.  Tips and recs are also welcome.

I may or may not be here for the entire Comment Time tonight.  The Girl has not been feeling very well today, but she yet may give me a call to come and visit.  If so, you know why I went silent, but I shall be back later.  Remember, no science or technology issue is off topic in the comments.  I shall return tomorrow evening around 9:00 PM for review time unless I do not (wink, wink, nudge, nudge!).

Warmest regards,

Doc, aka Dr. David W. Smith

Crossposted at

The Stars Hollow Gazette,

Docudharma, and

firefly-dreaming

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips and recs for (18+ / 0-)

    exploring an extremely versatile element?

    Warmest regards,

    Doc

    I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

    by Translator on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 05:52:47 PM PDT

  •  N in -2 valence - chloramine. :-D (8+ / 0-)

    NH2Cl... Made from the reaction of bleach (hypochlorite, OCl- ) and ammonia. Highly toxic and can mess up your lungs

    Remember, kiddies, don't mix those bathroom cleaners!

  •  Nitrogen... (3+ / 0-)

    as you say, it loves to be diatomic N2, and getting it away from that takes a lot of energy, hence its utility in explosives, the large majority of which gain energy and brisance from the reverse path.

    If you've not read Derek Lowe's humorous essays on "Things I Won't Work With", it contains quite a number of nitrogen compounds:

    Hexanitrohexaazaisowurtitane

    Chlorine Azide

    Well, it's been a bit too serious around here this week. So I thought today I'd step back to a period when men were men and chlorine azide was a reactive, toxic, and unstable compound that was only good for finding out what sort of explosion it would set off next. What's that? You say that that's still about all it's good for? Staying power, that's what I call it. If you work with the halogen azides, you work with things whose essential character time does not alter.

    "Until they blow up", you say. Ah, but that is their essential character. It's the things around them that alter. Make sure you don't put anything next to them that you're not comfortable seeing altered - you know, all sudden-like.

    Nitrotetrazole oxides

    Whoa! Time to Clean the Fishtank! Uh, Root Canal Appointment! Look at the Time!

    Smelly isocyanides

    Everyone's heard of cyanide, whether they've spent any time in a chemistry classroom or not. And if you form a covalent bond to the carbon of that CN group, you've got a nitrile, and those are familiar compounds to any organic chemist. But what if you flip the group around and bond it via the nitrogen? That gives you a weird situation, where the nitrogen has a formal positive charge and the carbon is left with a formal negative one, which looks somehow unnatural. But that's an isonitrile (isocyanide) for you.

    They're actually quite useful, although I'd guess that the majority of chemists have never encountered one. But if they have, they've remembered it, because isonitriles are not shy about announcing their alien character. Our noses can immediately tell the difference between garden variety nitriles and their evil twins. The former often have no smell at all, or run to a faint spicyness. The latter smell like. . . like. . .well, I've never actually been downwind of the Abominable Snowman's armpit or been had my eyeglasses fogged up by a Komodo dragon with stomach trouble, but those are the examples that come to mind.

    Chalcogen polyazides

    Azidotetrazolate salts

    An early favorite has appeared in my “most alarming chemical papers” file for this year. Thomas Klapoetke and Joerg Stierstorfer from Munich have published one with a simple title that might not sound unusual to people outside the field, but has made every chemist I’ve shown it to point like a bird dog: “The CN7 Anion”. The reason that one gets our attention is that compounds with lots of nitrogens in them – more specifically, compounds with a high percentage of nitrogen by weight – are a spirited bunch. They hear the distant call of the wild, and they know that with just one leap of the fence they can fly free as molecules of nitrogen gas. And that’s never an orderly process. If my presumably distant cousin Nick Lowe does indeed love the sound of breaking glass, then these are his kinds of compounds. A more accurate song title for these latest creations would be “I Love the Sound Of Shrapnel Bouncing Off My Welder’s Mask”, but that sort of breaks up the rhythm.
    Triazadienyl fluoride
    Now this is a fine substance. Also known in the older literature as fluorine azide, you make it by combining two other things that have already made my “Things I Won’t Work With” list. Just allow fluorine (ay!) to react with neat hydrazoic acid (yikes), and behold!

    Well, what you’re most likely to behold is a fuming crater, unless you’re quite careful indeed. Both of those starting materials deserve serious respect, since they're able to remove you from this plane of existence with alacrity, and their reaction product is nothing to putz around with, either.

    Cyanogen Azide
    Cyanogen azide is trouble right from its empirical formula: CN4, not one hydrogen atom to its name. A molecular weight of 68 means that you’re dealing with a small, lively compound, but when the stuff is 82 per cent nitrogen, you can be sure that it’s yearning to be smaller and livelier still. That’s a common theme in explosives, this longing to return to the gaseous state, and nitrogen-nitrogen bonds are especially known for that spiritual tendency.

    There were scattered reports of the compound in the older German and French literature, but since these referred to the isolation of crystalline compounds which did not necessarily blow the lab windows out, they were clearly mistaken. F. D. Marsh at DuPont made the real thing in the 1960s (first report here, follow-up after eight no-doubt-exciting years here). It's a clear oil, not that many people have seen it that state, or at least not for long.

    Polyazides

    A nasty condensed gas [anhydrous hydrogen cyanide]

    •  Very nice! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eyesoars, wilderness voice

      It will take me a long time to digest all of that.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 08:41:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  found that page through chlorine trifluoride (3+ / 0-)

      At some point, I got it in my head to search for something that would set wet sand on fire.  Sure enough, there it was.

      To those who say the New Deal didn't work: WWII was also government spending

      by Visceral on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 10:05:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, yes! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Visceral, wilderness voice

        The fluorine is weakly bonded, and put it with silicon dioxide and watch the flames come!  Just be upwind so that you do not breathe any of it!

        Warmest regards,

        Doc

        I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

        by Translator on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 10:09:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  those are some fun chemicals he talks about (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Translator

          I'm not any kind of chemist so I don't pretend to understand what's really going on and why, but it's an interesting read nonetheless: all the precautions they take, how sensitive the compounds are to any kind of disturbance, and how powerful they are when (not if) they explode.  And some of it is as pure as science gets; it sounds like these guys are creating these compounds just to see if it can be done.

          To those who say the New Deal didn't work: WWII was also government spending

          by Visceral on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 10:16:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You are not wrong! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            eyesoars

            The challenge often makes us seek more.

            May I ask if my posts make sense to nontechnical folks?  I really try for them to do so.

            Warmest regards,

            Doc

            I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

            by Translator on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 10:33:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  The stinky ones are impressive too... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Visceral

            Getting complaints from nearby towns downwind of a few grams of some of the stinkier selenium compounds, for instance.

          •  Quite a few... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Visceral

            are done just to see if they can be done.

            The noble-gas compounds, for instance, which take quite a lot of determination to make, and are AFAIK of generally very little use.

            F2O2 (aka FOOF) for another, nor do I know of any actual use for chlorine pentafluoride (ClF5).

            Then again, probably many such compounds started out that way, and then someone went and found uses for them.

      •  One of my favorites... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Visceral

        Sand Won't Save You This Time. If you follow the link there and open the PDF, the description of a metric ton spill of this stuff is impressive.

        The phrase 'hypergolic with ... test engineers' is a bit daunting as well.

        I believe a fire of metallic titanium, once started, cannot be put out with sand, either.

        Chlorine trifluoride is widely used in the semiconductor business, but generally in very small amounts. I used to work below a fab, and many of the chemicals were quite nasty: tungsten hexafluoride, hydrofluoric acid, phosgene, arsine, yada yada. One took the fire alarms seriously.

        I suppose that's not as bad as some of the national labs, however, which have visitor cards describing a variety of klaxon signals for evacuation procedures. ISTR descriptions of number of blats per event type, and fire being several down on the list. Topping it was 'criticality alert': leave building immediately, go to upwind staging areas.

        •  sounds like an interesting place to work (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          eyesoars
          I suppose that's not as bad as some of the national labs, however, which have visitor cards describing a variety of klaxon signals for evacuation procedures. ISTR descriptions of number of blats per event type, and fire being several down on the list. Topping it was 'criticality alert': leave building immediately, go to upwind staging areas.
          I bet nobody ever gets bored over there.

          To those who say the New Deal didn't work: WWII was also government spending

          by Visceral on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 10:02:47 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Sorry Doc, I'm late because I was writing... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator, PrahaPartizan

    •  That is the one from last week, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      palantir, side pocket

      but no worries.

      I am trying to get rid of fleas from Jace.  My house is infested, and I am fucking sick of it.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 08:42:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Fleas, yuck (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Translator

        check out that cedarcide product. I haven't tried it, no fleas, but Stephanie Miller adverts it. (not that that makes it better than other stuff)

        •  Most of my problem is just (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          palantir

          being a slob.  If I had proper access to my carpets without all of the shit (not cat, not really shit, but just junk) on them I could vacuum them as I should.

          I just started with my bedroom tonight and began stripping all of the bedclothes.  My second comforter is in the washer, the first in the dryer.  Those will be sealed in trash bags until the fleas are all no longer with us.

          It is my fault, not Jace's.  Sometimes I just need to blame someone else.

          Warmest regards,

          Doc

          I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

          by Translator on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 08:57:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Sprinkle Borax everywhere. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Translator

        Carpets, beneath sofa and sofa cushion, every place you can reach.  Vacuum carpet lightly after 24 hours, but leave the Borax underneath your furniture until the weather turns cold.  That should do it.  ; )

        "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

        by Neuroptimalian on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 10:36:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This is interesting. I am on an Qxygen generator. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator

    It works by drawing room air over a resin bed which pulls some Nitrogen from the air leaving it higher in Oxygen... Then the pump reverses and blows off the Nitrogen.

    Ok some one quick tell me that vinegar does not contrain Nitrogen since I have mixing it with bleach to kill weeds. I assumed I was making a form of HCL because I assumed that the CL- was pulling off a H in mixture to equilibrium since vinegar is acid. I already have lung issues ajust want to be sure I was right and that the vinegar was not some acid formed with N.

    How can you tell when Rmoney is lying? His lips are moving. Fear is the Mind Killer

    by boophus on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 08:50:33 PM PDT

    •  Vinegar is (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wilderness voice

      devoid of nitrogen, only carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen.  You are actually making elemental chlorine when you mix an acid with bleach, which contains the hypochlorite ion.  Hypochlorite is somewhat stable in basic solution, but put acid to it and you get chlorine.

      You are not really making hydrochloric acid, so that is not why it works.  By the way, the reaction betwixt hypochlorite and acid is very fast, so you are better to put the bleach down first and then douse the vinegar on it.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:02:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Your generator uses some quite (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wilderness voice

      advanced membrane technology, and it is getting cheaper and better.  Since this is Comment Time, I am self forbidden to look up anything, but it works sort of like reverse osmosis for water purification.

      Take a membrane that is more permeable for one thing than another, and use pressure (which costs energy) to push the more permeable species across the membrane.  The less permeable ones accumulate on the other side, and finally block access to to more permeable ones.

      Every now and then it is necessary to backflush the unwanted ones away.  You just described what I have done for a long time to keep RO water systems working and to keep gas chromatography columns efficient.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:20:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for the info. I was told my old gen was (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Translator

        a resin bed but now I have a spiffy new one and you are probably right. If I can't get off this I am going to buy a small portable gen.

        THat is a relief about the vinegar... I had a feeling it was some simple reaction when someone told me it was a great weed killer. WOW Cl ... thats so cool. no wonder weeds die lol. So the vinegar is just to pull the O off .

        When I worked labs we used distillation and resin beds to purify our water for water testing purposes to reduce the input from the water... The only GC I have used actually was in the USAF drug testing lab and the doctorates who oversaw me in the follow up to tests that came positive on the plates tended to take care of the sissy machines we had. It was later i use Ion Chromatography in the waster water lab but I couldn't get it to give good results because of the contaminants clogging it up. I did write a nasty letter to the company who hornswoggled us and then used it for accreditation testing LOL.

        How can you tell when Rmoney is lying? His lips are moving. Fear is the Mind Killer

        by boophus on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:34:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I am an instrument person. (0+ / 0-)

          Give me one of many, and I can play it like a violin!  Here are my acronyms that I love.

          MS, GC, ICP, AA, IR, UV, NMR(!), HPLC, XRF, and an plethora of others.  I am truly a geek!

          Warmest regards,

          Doc

          I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

          by Translator on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:42:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  My forte was actually in medical labs where I (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Translator, wilderness voice

            repaired blood gas machines and spectrophotometers as well as being prettyhandy with most of our hematology machines. But that was in the 70s and the SMA 12 was a big deal then. GC was pretty primitive compared to ones I later saw in chemistry labs.

            My most favorite lab work was in microbiology. Later I worked for awhile for Baxter Microscan making kits to do the media studies to determine the exact ID of a bacteria. Never used it myself because in the USAF we made our own medias and media panels (I especially hated making the meat media for anaerobic bacteria).

            I love your diaries because I haven't done actual lab work for over 15 years but I did love it.

            I do recognize high pressure liquid chromatograph and NMR, AA sound very familiar

            How can you tell when Rmoney is lying? His lips are moving. Fear is the Mind Killer

            by boophus on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:52:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  So where is the nitrogen on Mars? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator

    So far nitrogen seems to be a no-show in Curiosity's ChemCam spectra, and there is little of it in the Martian atmosphere.

    No nitrogen does not sound promising for life.

    •  I spoke to that last time, so please (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      atana

      look up the link.  The short version is that nitrogen is so inert that it does not form relatively nonvolatile compounds and just gets blown off of rocky planets as they form.  Nitrogen is actually quite rare on earth as compared with its cosmic abundance for the same reason.  Since our world has much more mass than Mars, we kept more.

      Now when you get to the liquid and ice planets, Jupiter and beyond, there is LOTS of nitrogen since it never was, to coin a term, blown off by hot air.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:09:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  By the way, I would be amazed if there (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      side pocket, atana

      were no fixed nitrogen on Mars, because without a good UV screen, any elemental nitrogen would have combined with oxygen to form nitrates or other much less volatile materials.  I think that some is there!

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:11:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Finding nitrates is one of the things Curiosity (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Translator

        is intended to do. It's still early days (or Sols) yet...

        •  I would bet you doughnuts (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          atana, wilderness voice

          to dollars that some nitrate, either organic or inorganic, will be found.  When Mars was boilt off, with its little gravity, it had a minute magnetic field, now long gone, and as far as we know, little or no ozone.

          Those conditions are perfect for vacuum ultraviolet to excite both oxygen and nitrogen and cause them to react.  Our atmosphere is just too thick for that in most cases.  I know that the inverse square law is important, but the UV from the sun must have been very intense there at the time.  What say you?

          Warmest regards,

          Doc

          I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

          by Translator on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:26:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Unless the nitrogen was scavanged up first (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Translator, side pocket

            by Martian organisms and sequestered in specific (then wet) places. If the nitrogen fixing was all UV based, I would think it would now be all over the surface like the iron oxide.

            •  Nice point, but remember (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              side pocket, atana

              that Mars looks like it had a liquid water environment long ago.  The rain could have taken the extremely soluble nitrates into primordial oceans that later were covered with sediment.

              I am not trying to argue, just to make plausible scenarios.

              Warmest regards,

              Doc

              I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

              by Translator on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:46:32 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yes, I'm not "pushing" for life on Mars (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Translator

                I'm willing to wait for the data, and there will be lots of it.

                •  I think that this robot (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  atana

                  will give us good answers..  I love the IR laser that will ablate rocks, and the spectrometer that will deconvolute the data and the antenna that will send those data back.

                  Warmest regards,

                  Doc

                  I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

                  by Translator on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:57:39 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  This is off the nitrogen thread (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator

    but you are one of the only people I could ask. I've been following the Higgs Boson discovery and reading every explanation of it. Generally it is said that mass is created by particles going through the field and slowing like a marble through molasses. My question is, are the particles moving because the universe is expanding, or moving in the sense of the vibrations of particles on the sub-atomic level. I am not a scientist, obviously, but very interested.

    Ceiling Cat rules....srsly.

    by side pocket on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:22:54 PM PDT

    •  No one expects the Spanish Inquistion! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      side pocket

      And no science question is off topic here!

      You have an excellent question about the Higgs boson, and even the experts are divided.  I have read many different explanations for it, and frankly can not understand any of them.  I do not think that it is because I am scientifically deficient, but rather that theory is not up to par just yet.  Actually, lots of the Standard Model is hypothetical, not theoretical, and there is a BIG difference.

      If you look at the part of the Standard Model that addresses supersymmetry, there is not one, are not two nor three, but multiple manifestations of the Higgs boson, each with different properties.  It gets really confusing, and even the brightest minds in the field are confused.

      Hey, confusion can be a good thing!  That means that there is not one false way of thinking that is wrong.  Remember when I described the phlogiston theory of fire?  Everyone was on board with that one, and it was absolutely wrong.

      The bottom line is that no one really knows how to interpret the data, and sometimes the data get in way of the hypotheses.

      I shall leave you with one, very optimistic, thought.  With the instant communication that everyone has now, the cutting edge scientists are privately talking things over, and that is good thing.  In the past they just shot at each other in the peer reviewed journals.  They still do, and that is a good thing, but at least they communicate in real time now.

      Does this make any sense?  I miss Ashley.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:38:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you for your (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Translator

        answer. While I am at it, I'll just say I have long thought you are one of the best and sweetest people on DKos, and I always appreciate your posts.

        Ceiling Cat rules....srsly.

        by side pocket on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:45:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Awwwwh! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          side pocket

          Thank you very much!  I have not always been that sweet.

          Back when I did political posts I got into flame wars and hide (then called troll) rating contests.  That is not for me.  I have come to understand that I am an Idealist (look up psychology on Wiki), and we Idealists HATE conflict.  My friend Randal, who is laying his father to rest at 11:00 AM in Arkansas showed me that.

          But you also know that part of my evolution is being so, so much in love with The Girl.  We spent a lot of time together today, and she was not feeling well.  But I made her feel better, just being her friend.

          Do I make any sense at all?

          Warmest regards,

          Doc

          I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

          by Translator on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:54:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I have to go to town later, after (0+ / 0-)

            I sleep a bit.  Her vase is almost devoid of pretty flowers, and I have kept fresh ones there for over a year.  Symbols mean things, and one of my symbols of my love for her is to keep the vase that I gave her replete with fresh flowers.  Does that make sense?

            Warmest regards,

            Doc

            I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

            by Translator on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 10:23:50 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  There has NEVER been a day (0+ / 0-)

              since I first started giving her flowers over a year ago that at least one was still pretty.  Do I sound silly?

              Warmest regards,

              Doc

              I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

              by Translator on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 10:28:01 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Love the diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator

    A couple of minor things... The first row elements do not commonly tend to form ions with a -1 charge by gaining an electron to have two electrons, except for hydrogen, though paired electrons are more stable in general than odd electrons. You can do that in a vacuum chamber, but not under normal circumstances.

      The first row tends to lose an electron to also achieve an octet by matching the noble gas in the previous row, and although, technically, it takes a small amount of energy from a reaction to do that, it is often a violent reaction because of the net energy. There is also the distinction between having inner electrons and outer valence electrons to point out, and as weird as it might seem, for the first one in the second column, beryllium compounds tends to have an octet of 4, but the others are more likely to lost two electrons to get to the octet configuration. So many good rules, but so many exceptions.

    On the first structure you show for N2O the correct charges would be minus one on each nitrogen, and plus two on the oxygen. That is why it is considered a less stable structure on paper. Since you show the formal charges on the other structures, it would be consistent to show them on the first one as well.

    •  Oh, and for N with -2 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Translator

      You can have N2H4 if you like rockets.
      Incidentally I kind of like how NO2 actually forms N2O4 to get rid of the lone pair electron but usually falls apart at room temperature and pressure. There is an interesting p chem experiment where you change NO2 to N2O4 and it becomes colorless instead of brown.

      •  By the way... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Translator

        N2H4 or hydrazine falls in the category of, "don't try this at home." There are a lot safer ways to get a rocket if you are into that.

      •  ... (0+ / 0-)

        At Atmel in Colorado Springs two decades ago, they had a couple of hydrazine tanks. One night, one of them blew up, injuring an engineer there.

        They called up the supplier and asked about the other tank, which may or may not have been damaged in the explosion. The company told them to destroy it. So they dragged the thing out into an empty field between Atmel, a pond, and Cray Computer across the way, and, with a large audience of police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances, blew the thing up.

        Anyway, hydrazine is pretty nasty stuff -- corrosive, toxic, flammable, carcinogenic, and explosive. It's not rarely used as a rocket fuel (usually with stabilized nitric acid nitrogen tetroxide, IIRC), although more commonly unsymmetrical dimethyl hydrazine or a mixture of it with hydrazine is used.

    •  first or second? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Translator

      It sounds liike you are referring to what I would call the 2nd row as the first contains only H and He.

    •  I admit that I took a shortcut when I (0+ / 0-)

      merely found stock pics of nitrate and nitrite.  Even though my had sketches may be less attractive, I think that they are more informative.  In future I think that I shall and sketch them.  You are quite correct that I omitted the formal charges, but I was really in a hurry because it was almost publishing time.  I shall correct the errata next time.  Whilst you are technically quite correct, since spectroscopic data indicate that oxygen is the terminal atom in nitrous oxide, there relative stability of a double positive charge on oxygen is quite moot.

      I do observe that you have confused first row (only hydrogen and helium) with second row elements.  Hydrogen can either lose an electron (formally) since zero electrons in the 1s shell is more stable than one, or can gain an electron (to form a hydride) to give it the stable helium structure.  It is not possible for a first row element to have an octet of electrons, because of electrostatic repulsion.

      You also mention the term "an octet of 4", and that is a contradiction in terms.  "Octet" is defined as eight, no more, no fewer.  I do appreciate the feedback!

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 06:29:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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