Saturday, September 21, 2013

Countdown to Opening Night by the Elements: Number 10

And now Fearless is down to the last ten elements to Opening Night.  It won’t be long now…


Neon is a noble gas that emits a bright red signature in the electromagnetic spectrum.  Born in fusion processes in stars, it is named for the Greek word, “neos,” meaning “new.”  As often as the word appears in conversation and print, it is actually a quite rare element, made even more so by the fact that is forms no stable chemical compounds. That makes it extremely volatile, allowing it to escape the earth in the heat of the young solar system.

It was discovered at the end of the 19th century by Sir William Ramsey.  Having little else to do, apparently, Ramsey took a sample of air (it being in great supply) and chilled it.  I mean really chilled it.  So much that it became a liquid (for the record, that means taking it to a temperature of minus-319 degrees Fahrenheit).  Then he warmed it back up, slowly.  This allowed him to collect the gases comprising air as they boiled off, since each of them individually had different boiling points.  Nitrogen boiled off…oxygen…even argon.  Then, krypton (this guy would have been great building stills in the Appalachians).  He was left with a gas that gave off a brilliant red light when current was passed through it.  He named it “neon.”

Of all the noble gases, neon gives off the most intense light and is expressed as a red-orange color to the human eye.  These qualities make it a preferred element in lighting, displays, and it was important in the development of plasma television screen applications. 

Neon is not restricted to lighting or sign applications, although they are their most commonly known ones.  It is used in vacuum tubes, voltage indicators, and even lasers.  In its liquefied form it is used as a refrigerant.

We have an element born in stellar furnaces, but one that is apart from other elements on earth.  It shines brightest among them with an intense reddish glow.  And even though it is most commonly known as an element in lighting and in sign-making, it has a number of other applications.  It sounds like someone who is among the many elements of Caps Nation, but works apart from them (perhaps in his own booth), one whose intensity makes brighter and more memorable Caps game nights.  One who while most well-known here for his special talents on game night, has a lot of other credits to his name.

Neon… the “Wes Johnson” of the elements of the periodic table.

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