Essay by Anonymous UserHigh School, 10th gradeA+, December 1997

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Xenon is element number 54 on the periodic table of the elements. It has a mass of roughly 131 atomic mass units. There are 77 neutrons and 54 protons in the nucleus of the atom. The symbol for xenon is Xe and it belongs to the family of elements called the noble gases. It is called a noble gas because the valance shell of one atom contains a full shell. Xenon is one of the most stable elements on the table. The 54 electrons are arranged, so that there are 2 in the 1st shell, 8 in the 2nd, 18 in the 3rd, 18 in the 4th and lastly 8 in the 5th shell. The melting and boiling points of xenon are extremely low. They are -111°C and -107°C respectively.

Xenon and most of the other noble gases were discovered by Sir William Ramsey and M.W. Travers from England in 1898.

The two scientists discovered it mistakenly while experimenting with crude krypton, another noble gas. They were separating the elements in the crude krypton through a process called fractional distillation. In fractional distillation, the process separates two elements that have different boiling points. Basic-ally, when a sample is heated, the faster element leaves first, leaving the second element behind. Krypton was known to have a boiling point at a temperature that is lower than xenon. So the scientists could predict that heating the mixture would leave krypton in the container, while the faster boiling xenon leaving it. After the two scientists separated krypton and xenon, they identified it as a new element through the emission spectrum of the gas.

Xenon is used heavily in light bulbs. Many of the bulbs in camera flashes have xenon in them, because they can be used over 10,000 times without burning...