Monday, December 3, 2012

Oxygen APEX Mineral

Oxygen (O #8) is the next element on the periodic table for my APEX mineral collection.  
Wikipedia Oxygen
Oxygen Minerals
It is actually hard to find minerals that DON'T contain oxygen.  It is everywhere.  Good old WATER (89% Oxygen) is the best APEX mineral, but the same problem we had with Hydrogen is that water is liquid at room temperature.   Not good for a mineral sample.

The problem with vast majority of other Oxygen minerals is that they are really some form of hydrate which I am trying to avoid.  I choose Borax (Na2B4O5(OH)4•8(H2O))  which contains 71% Oxygen as the best APEX mineral.  Borax contains both covalent Oxygen and hydrated Oxygen so I guess I'm not cheating.

If you want MEOWSER to light up as many minerals as possible, choose Oxygen and about half of the cabinet will light up.
A rare sample of solid Oxygen above.  Oxygen is the third-most abundant element in the universe, after hydrogen and helium.  And most amazingly, the Earths crust is about HALF Oxygen by weight.  
Oxygen was not recognized as an element until about 1800.  Combustion (oxidation) was described by the obsolete phlogiston theory that postulated a fire-like element called phlogiston, contained within combustible bodies, that is released during combustion. 
Oxygen is of immense commercial importance as an intermediate reactant in the production of many other compounds.  Oxygen minerals are also used in cleaning products such as Borax.
Oxygen, just like our previous Nitrogen, is critical to life on Earth.  DNA, Proteins, and all organic compounds contain Oxygen in some form.  Oxygen and Nitrogen are highly reactive with other elements.  The fact that these two elements are most involved in the chemical pathways of life is really not surprising from a purely chemistry point of view.

Animals use inhaled Oxygen as an oxidizing agent to obtain energy from food.  Strangely, when Oxygen first appeared in Earths atmosphere, it was a plant waste product that contaminated the atmosphere and made life impossible for anaerobic organisms.

I view Carbon, the classical "organic" definition of life a little differently.  Yes, the structural backbone of most organic molecules has carbon at the core of these compounds.  However, the actual reactive chemistry of life is Oxygen and Nitrogen elements which are attached to these Carbon atoms.  In one sense, Oxygen and Nitrogen are the real triggers for organic chemistry.  Carbon gets too much credit.