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Hints of a volcanically active exomoon

A rocky extrasolar moon (exomoon) with bubbling lava may orbit a planet 550 light-years away from us. This is suggested by an international team of researchers led by the University of Bern on the basis of theoretical predictions ...

Frog protein may mitigate dangers posed by toxic marine microbes

A new study from UC San Francisco suggests that a protein found in the common bullfrog may one day be used to detect and neutralize a poisonous compound produced by red tides and other harmful algal blooms. The discovery ...

Table salt compound spotted on Europa

A familiar ingredient has been hiding in plain sight on the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa. Using a visible light spectral analysis, planetary scientists at Caltech and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which Caltech manages ...

Keeping food safe from bacteria

NUS food scientists have found that a combination of lactic acid with food grade sodium hypochlorite is an effective sanitizer to process fresh organic vegetables.

Colorful solution to a chemical industry bottleneck

The nanoscale water channels that nature has evolved to rapidly shuttle water molecules into and out of cells could inspire new materials to clean up chemical and pharmaceutical production. KAUST researchers have tailored ...

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Sodium (pronounced /ˈsoʊdiəm/) is a metallic element with a symbol Na (from Latin natrium or Arabic natrun) and atomic number 11. It is a soft, silvery-white, highly reactive metal and is a member of the alkali metals within "group 1" (formerly known as ‘group IA’). It has only one stable isotope, 23Na.

Elemental sodium was first isolated by Sir Humphry Davy in 1806 by passing an electric current through molten sodium hydroxide. Elemental sodium does not occur naturally on Earth, but quickly oxidizes in air and is violently reactive with water, so it must be stored in an inert medium, such as a liquid hydrocarbon. The free metal is used for some chemical synthesis and heat transfer applications.

Sodium ion is soluble in water in nearly all of its compounds, and is thus present in great quantities in the Earth's oceans and other stagnant bodies of water. In these bodies it is mostly counterbalanced by the chloride ion, causing evaporated ocean water solids to consist mostly of sodium chloride, or common table salt. Sodium ion is also a component of many minerals.

Sodium is an essential element for all animal life and for some plant species. In animals, sodium ions are used in opposition to potassium ions, to allow the organism to build up an electrostatic charge on cell membranes, and thus allow transmission of nerve impulses when the charge is allowed to dissipate by a moving wave of voltage change. Sodium is thus classified as a “dietary inorganic macro-mineral” for animals. Sodium's relative rarity on land is due to its solubility in water, thus causing it to be leached into bodies of long-standing water by rainfall. Such is its relatively large requirement in animals, in contrast to its relative scarcity in many inland soils, that herbivorous land animals have developed a special taste receptor for sodium ion.

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