Science – The Elements – Hydrogen


What is an Atom?

What is Hydrogen?

Hydrogen is the very first element on the periodic table. It’s made up of just one proton and one electron. Hydrogen atoms are the smallest and lightest atoms that exist, and there are more of them in the universe than anything else!

Hydrogen gets its name from two Greek words. Hydro, which means water, and Genes, which means forming. It got that name because, when hydrogen burns, it makes water! Weird, right?

Atomic Number1
Atomic Weight1.008
State of MatterGas

Hydrogen is a gas at room temperature, and it has no color or smell. It doesn’t usually show up by itself on earth, but there is still a lot of it here. Water, or H2O, is made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom.


How was Hydrogen Discovered?

In the 1500s, a scientist named Paracelsus noticed that when he poured acid onto iron it made bubbles. Those bubbles were hydrogen, but he didn’t know it!

Later, in 1671, Robert Boyle did the same experiment and saw the same bubbles. But he didn’t realize it was hydrogen either!

Finally, in 1766, Henry Cavendish did the same experiment again and discovered that the bubbles were hydrogen gas.

An atom of Hydrogen

What is Hydrogen Used for?

Hydrogen is used as a clean fuel today. Some buses and cars run on hydrogen and make steam instead of pollution! Liquid hydrogen is also used as rocket fuel. Astronauts get to space by blasting out steam! Hydrogen can be used to make powerful nuclear bombs, or to clean cuts. You probably have a bottle of hydrogen peroxide at home!

Science Facts
Did you know that the sun is powered by hydrogen? The sun’s powerful gravity mashes hydrogen atoms together to make helium. When hydrogen turns into helium, a huge amount of energy gets released. That’s where all of the heat and light from the sun comes from!

In the next article, we will learn about Helium. Hopefully, I don’t get too carried away!

The Elements – Helium


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