Noble Gases (Encyclopedia of Science)
The noble gases are the six elements that make up Group 18 of the periodic table: helium (He), neon (Ne), argon (Ar), krypton (Kr), xenon (Xe), and radon (Rn). At one time, this family of elements was also known as the rare gases. Their present name comes from the fact that the six gases are highly unreactive; they appear almost "noble"bove interacting with other members of the periodic table. This lack of reactivity has also led to a second name by which they are sometimes knownhe inert gases. (Inert means inactive.)
Abundance and production
As their former name suggests, the noble gases are rather uncommon on Earth. Collectively, they make up about 1 percent of Earth's atmosphere. Most of the noble gases have been detected in small amounts in minerals found in Earth's crust and in meteorites. They are thought to have been released into the atmosphere long ago as by-products of the decay of radioactive elements in Earth's crust. (Radioactivity is the property that some elements have of spontaneously giving off energy in the form of particles or waves when their nuclei disintegrate.)
Of all the rare gases, argon is present in the greatest amount. It makes up about 0.9 percent by volume of Earth's atmosphere. The other noble gases are present in such small amounts that it is usually more convenient to express their concentrations in terms of...
(The entire section is 1010 words.)
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