Hydrogen is a chemical element with symbol H and atomic number 1. With an average atomic weight of 1.00794 u (1.007825 u for hydrogen-1), hydrogen is the lightest element and its monatomic form (H1) is the most abundant chemical substance, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's baryonic mass. Non-remnant stars are mainly composed of hydrogen in its plasma state.
At standard temperature and pressure, hydrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic, nonmetallic, highly combustible diatomic gas with the molecular formula H2. Naturally occurring atomic hydrogen is rare on Earth because hydrogen readily forms covalent compounds with most elements and is present in the water molecule and in most organic compounds. Hydrogen plays a particularly important role in acid-base chemistry with many reactions exchanging protons between soluble molecules.
In ionic compounds, it can take a negative charge (an anion known as a hydride and written as H−), or as a positively charged species H+. The latter cation is written as though composed of a bare proton, but in reality, hydrogen cations in ionic compounds always occur as more complex species.
The most common isotope of hydrogen is protium (name rarely used, symbol 1H) with a single proton and no neutrons. As the simplest atom known, the hydrogen atom has been of theoretical use. For example, as the only neutral atom with an analytic solution to the Schrödinger equation, the study of the energetics and bonding of the hydrogen atom played a key role in the development of quantum mechanics.
Hydrogen gas was first artificially produced in the early 16th century, via the mixing of metals with strong acids. In 1766–81, Henry Cavendish was the first to recognize that hydrogen gas was a discrete substance, and that it produces water when burned, a property which later gave it its name: in Greek, hydrogen means "water-former".
Industrial production is mainly from the steam reforming of natural gas, and less often from more energy-intensive hydrogen production methods like the electrolysis of water. Most hydrogen is employed near its production site, with the two largest uses being fossil fuel processing (e.g., hydrocracking) and ammonia production, mostly for the fertilizer market.
Hydrogen is a concern in metallurgy as it can embrittle many metals, complicating the design of pipelines and storage tanks.
Famous quotes containing the word hydrogen:
“All you of Earth are idiots!... First was your firecracker, a harmless explosive. Then your hand grenade. They begin to kill your own people a few at a time. Then the bomb. Then a larger bomb, many people are killed at one time. Then your scientists stumbled upon the atom bombsplit the atom. Then the hydrogen bomb, where you actually explode the air itself.”
—Edward D. Wood, Jr. (19221978)
“The pace of science forces the pace of technique. Theoretical physics forces atomic energy on us; the successful production of the fission bomb forces upon us the manufacture of the hydrogen bomb. We do not choose our problems, we do not choose our products; we are pushed, we are forcedby what? By a system which has no purpose and goal transcending it, and which makes man its appendix.”
—Erich Fromm (19001980)