What Is Hydrogen?

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Hydrogen is a colorless gas that is lighter than air and very flammable. Learn more about hydrogen, the lightest of the elements, with help from a science teacher in this free video on physical science.

Part of the Video Series: Physical & Life Science
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Steve Jones and I'm going to tell you what hydrogen is. Well we all know hydrogen is a colorless gas. It's not very dense, it's lighter than air and it's colorless. We said that, colorless, yes, colorless gas, lighter than air and it is very flammable. That is it's easily burnt so it's flammable. It's a dangerous gas, it explodes. Alright, but actually what is hydrogen? Hydrogen is the lightest of the elements. It is the number one element, it's number one, it is unique, it is light. It is in fact a proton because hydrogen contains one proton and around it, one electron. So you can't get simpler than that. If I remove the electron by ionizing it, it becomes a hydrogen with a positive charge which is just a proton and people say well you can't isolate protons and neutrons, but you can because here it is, one proton all on it's own. Neutrons are found on their own as well. So hydrogen is basically a proton but some hydrogen has more than that, it has a neutron as well. So there is one neutron here in this version of hydrogen which we call hydrogen 2, heavy hydrogen or deuterium. This is a natural material, it is normal 10% of hydrogen is heavy hydrogen and therefore we have a substance called heavy water which is used in the nuclear industry. Heavy water is about 10% heavier than normal water. So heavy hydrogen exists naturally. A third form of hydrogen, these are all called by the way, isotopes because they are chemically identical but physically different, the third form has two neutrons. This is not stable, it is a radioactive material, it disintegrates very quickly, it is this that is one of the main components of a hydrogen bomb where you actually combine tritium with other materials, sometimes two tritium atoms, combined together and produce a huge explosion, a huge amount of energy when the two combine to form helium. This is the process that occurs in the sun. So what we have here is hydrogen which is something we're very familiar with because hydrogen is in water and it's in methane for example. Hydrogen is one of the basic components of everything around us because water is one of the basic components so it's a lighter than air, colorless gas which is flammable and explodes and yet it is a thing that's around us all the time but in combined form. So that is what hydrogen is. Now here is an explanation of what other things hydrogen are about. So that is what hydrogen is.

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