Oxygen is a word of Greek origin that means “producer of acids”, since at the time when it was synthesized it was believed that it had the property of forming acidic or basic compounds.

It was discovered by a Swedish scientist named Carl Wilhelm Scheele, who first prepared it in 1772, calling it fire air, and vitrolo air. But other historians grant this finding to the Englishman Joseph Priestleyt, since in 1774 he published his results on this element, calling it dephlogisticized air. The Frenchman Antoine Laurent de Lavoisier was the one who first called him oxygen.

This substance is a highly reactive gas, capable of allying itself with most of the chemical elements of the periodic table, discounting noble gases such as helium and neon. It is composed of two equal atoms, which covers approximately one fifth of the earth’s atmosphere, being the third most abundant element in the universe. It has the second highest electronegativity in the periodic table, second only to fluorine.

This element is kept in the earth’s atmosphere thanks to the photosynthesis processes carried out by organisms that require solar energy to produce vital energy from water. It is believed that this element appeared in the Earth’s atmosphere once the synthesizing organisms of solar energy made their presence, approximately 2.5 billion years ago.

What is oxygen for?

Oxygen has a wide range of uses and applications, being used in medicine; in the aerospace industry; in metallurgy, and in various applied sciences. But the main use that humans give to oxygen is to maintain the vitality of living beings, since it is the gas that allows respiration, and without it, organisms could not survive.

In the medical field, this gas is used in the treatment of patients with respiratory and cardiac deficiencies.

In the aerospace industry, this element is used in a liquid state, as a powerful agent that removes rust from metals and compounds used in rockets and missiles.

In the metallurgical industry, this element is used in high-temperature furnaces to convert carbon into carbon dioxide.

In the human body

Oxygen plays a vital role in living beings in general, and in humans in particular, since it is one of the gases with which the respiration process is carried out, and without which it would be impossible to maintain life. .

This process is based on the exchange of gases between the body and the external environment, acquiring oxygen from the environment and expelling this carbon dioxide.

Through this process, energy is produced at the cellular level, which is created continuously, since the energy discharge of the cells is permanent and their regeneration is required on a perennial basis. Likewise, both the breathing process and the pumping of oxygenated blood are done involuntarily in organisms.

In the plants

Oxygen is used by plants to carry out two processes: respiration and photosynthesis.

Through the process of respiration, plants, like all living beings, take oxygen from the air and process it as a revitalizing substance in their cells, expelling carbon dioxide and water vapor. These living things breathe through the openings of the leaves and the green parts of the plant.

Respiration is a biological process carried out by plants during the day. With photosynthesis, by contrast, plants extract carbon dioxide from the environment and convert it into oxygen. The photosynthesis process is carried out by plants at night.

In the atmosphere

The Earth’s atmosphere is basically composed of nitrogen (78%) and oxygen (21%), and it is estimated that the main source of oxygen production is photosynthesis.

This process is carried out by organisms that developed the ability to absorb photons from sunlight and convert them into energy, being in this group plants, algae and photosynthetic unicellular beings.

In medicine

Oxygen therapy, this is how the administration of oxygen for therapeutic purposes is known, using this substance in concentrations higher than that existing in the ambient air, causing an increase in the concentration of oxygen in the blood.

This affects anomalies such as the decrease in oxygen available to the body’s cells, and chronic respiratory insufficiencies.

Two types of methods are known in the application of oxygen therapy: normobaric, applied through masks; the hyperbaric, applied through an oxygen chamber.

Oxygen properties

The main property of oxygen is to be one of the most important participants in the vital energy cycle of living organisms. It is found in nature in a gaseous state, in a diatomic molecular formula (O2), and also in a triatomic form (O3), but it can be brought to a liquid state through distillation processes, subjected to an approximate temperature of 183 ° C.

In gaseous state, it is colorless, odorless and tasteless, and has the property of being an effective protector against ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Almost all elements form compounds with oxygen, the most important being water (H2O), a vital liquid for preserving human life.

This gas can be stored in containers that maintain extremely low temperatures, a condition that has allowed it to be used in the manufacture of spacesuits, since it prevents the freezing of blood tissues outside the Earth’s atmosphere.

In addition, it does not have perverse effects for the human being. However, inhalation of 50 – 100% oxygen generally damages the lungs, as people who are exposed to its absorption in work environments or related, must do so under the strictest standards of hygiene and industrial safety, recommending medical check-ups. newspapers.

Likewise, oxygen cannot be administered in cases of hyperthyroidism and in vitamin C and E deficiencies.

Samantha Robson
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Dr. Samantha Robson ( CRN: 0510146-5) is a nutritionist and website content reviewer related to her area of ​​expertise. With a postgraduate degree in Nutrition from The University of Arizona, she is a specialist in Sports Nutrition from Oxford University and is also a member of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

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