The Periodic Table
The Discovery of the Noble Gases.
How were the Noble Gases Discovered?
The noble gas helium
was first observed in the second half of the
19th century as a line in the emission spectrum of the Sun.
Helium was named after the Greek word for Sun, which is helios.
The other noble gases
(except helium) were discovered
by Rayleigh and Ramsey in the late 19th century.
They found that a sample of pure
nitrogen which they had
collected from a chemical reaction had a different density
from a sample of normal air. They reasoned that air must have
other gases mixed in with it. Using fractional distillation
they discovered first argon and then neon, krypton and xenon.
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