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Fuel cells in bacteria

The exchange of nitrogen between the atmosphere and organic matter is crucial for life on Earth because nitrogen is a major component of essential molecules such as proteins and DNA. One major route for this exchange, discovered ...

Nanoscale magnetic imaging of ferritin in a single cell

In life sciences, the ability to measure the distribution of biomolecules inside a cell in situ is an important investigative goal. Among a variety of techniques, scientists have used magnetic imaging (MI) based on the nitrogen ...

Solving the mystery of fertilizer loss from Midwest cropland

Farmers can't predict their annual corn harvest with certainty, but with the help of new research from Michigan State University, they can now pinpoint specific parts of their fields that consistently produce either good ...

Agrochemists find proof of the ferrous wheel hypothesis

A team of agrochemists from Russia, Germany, and Chile confirmed the so-called ferrous wheel hypothesis—the turnover of iron in the soil that enriches it with organic nitrogen. The results of the study were published in ...

U.S. forests changes are double-edged sword for environment

Climate change, nitrogen deposition and fire suppression are leading to shifts in the types of trees that dominate American forests. These changes will have environmental consequences, potentially positive and negative, according ...

How severe drought influences ozone pollution

From 2011 to 2015, California experienced its worst drought on record, with a parching combination of high temperatures and low precipitation. Drought conditions can have complicated effects on ozone air quality, so to better ...

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Nitrogen

Nitrogen (pronounced /ˈnaɪtrədʒɨn/) is a chemical element that has the symbol N and atomic number 7 and atomic mass 14.00674 u. Elemental nitrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless and mostly inert diatomic gas at standard conditions, constituting 78% by volume of Earth's atmosphere.

Many industrially important compounds, such as ammonia, nitric acid, organic nitrates (propellants and explosives), and cyanides, contain nitrogen. The extremely strong bond in elemental nitrogen dominates nitrogen chemistry, causing difficulty for both organisms and industry in converting the N2 into useful compounds, and releasing large amounts of energy when these compounds burn or decay back into nitrogen gas.

The element nitrogen was discovered by Daniel Rutherford, a Scottish physician, in 1772. Nitrogen occurs in all living organisms. It is a constituent element of amino acids and thus of proteins, and of nucleic acids (DNA and RNA). It resides in the chemical structure of almost all neurotransmitters, and is a defining component of alkaloids, biological molecules produced by many organisms.

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