Nothingness: The noble gases get to work

 作者:于貔鲸     |      日期:2019-03-14 03:06:01
By David E. Fisher Read more: “The nature of nothingness“ NOBLE gases are so called because, like the nobility, they do nothing. You might also call them rare gases, because they are so rare on Earth as to be nearly non-existent. The one exception is argon, which we inhale as 1 per cent of every breath, though it has no effect on our bodies whatsoever. Helium, neon, argon, krypton, xenon and radioactive radon are odourless, tasteless, practically non-reactive wisps of unconnected atoms. In this material universe, they amount to just about nothing at all. And yet… it would be hard to make a case that any other group of elements has had a greater impact on our understanding of the universe. For example, Darwin’s theory of evolution needs an Earth many millions of years old in order for it to have had time to work. Yet the Bible placed a limit on Earth’s age at a mere 6000 years. How was this argument resolved? The answer was helium, which is generated in rocks containing uranium and thorium. When these elements undergo radioactive decay they release alpha particles, which are really just helium nuclei that easily pick up electrons to create the gas. In 1906, armed with this idea and the rate of production of alpha particles by uranium, thorium and their decay products,