Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate July 2001

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Nitrogen is a colorless, unreactive gas without any smell. The chemical symbol for Nitrogen is N. Nitrogen is kinda like a filler in our atmosphere, making up over three-quarters of the air we breathe. The word Nitrogen is made up of two Greek words, nitron, meaning saltpeter, and genes, meaning producing. Nitrogen is a continual cycle, constantly being transferred between the land , animals, plants and the atmosphere. The cycle begins when lightning flashes, providing the energy for atmospheric nitrogen and oxygen to combine to form dilute nitric acid. The second step involves several species of bacteria, fungi and blue-green algae. These species can convert nitrogen into nitrogen containing compounds such as nitrates. These compounds are then used in photosynthesis to make new sources energy. In the middle of this cycle animals use the nitrogen locked up in the plant and animal tissues as a way of getting the nitrogen they need to build new cells.

Unlike in step three, step four deals with the waste of animals. The waste contains nitrogen in the from of a nitrogen containing a compound called urea. It will either evaporate or be broken down by bacteria. In step five bacteria is involved in decomposing waste and dead material release nitrogen from its compounds, forming gass that can escape to the atmophere, thus completing the cycle.

Nitrogen has no taste and is not very reactive. It is also one of the few elements that is found uncombined in nature and is an essential part of many explosives. It is said that seventy-eight percent of the earths volume and seventy-six percent of earths mass are a result if nitrogen. The atomic number if nitrogen is seven and the atomic weight is about fourteen.