Nitrogen

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Nitrogen (play /ˈntrɵɪn/ NYE-tro-jin) is a chemical element that has the symbol N, atomic number of 7 and atomic mass 14.00674 u. Elemental nitrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless and mostly inert diatomic gas at standard conditions, constituting 78.08% by volume of Earth's atmosphere. The element nitrogen was discovered as a separable component of air, by Scottish physician Daniel Rutherford, in 1772.

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 breaking the bond to convert the N2 into useful compounds, but at the same time causing release of large amounts of often useful energy when the compounds burn, explode, or decay back into nitrogen gas.

Nitrogen occurs in all living organisms, and the nitrogen cycle describes movement of the element from air into the biosphere and organic compounds, then back into the atmosphere. Synthetically-produced nitrates are key ingredients of industrial fertilizers, and also key pollutants in causing the eutrophication of water systems. Nitrogen 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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