Man's physical universe



The use of oxygen in combustion is discussed in Section 4 of this

Unit. The most important commercial use of oxygen is in the production

of high temperatures with hydrogen or acetylene in blowpipes,

which have given industry quick methods, which work even under

water, for cutting and welding metals. Metal surfaces are descaled in

preparation for painting by heating the surface with oxyacetylene


Smaller amounts of oxygen are used in the treatment of such diseases

as pneumonia in which the patient cannot inhale sufficient air to supply

the oxygen requirements of the body. Oxygen cylinders are carried

by miners when entering mines containing poisonous gases and by

aviators to supply oxygen for breathing at high altitudes. Oxygen,

O2, may be converted into ozone, O3, by passing the oxygen between

two plates highly charged with electricity. Oxygen and ozone are

examples of allotropic forms of elements, i.e., forms of elements differing

in energy content, and, therefore, differing in crystalline structure and in

physical properties.

Ozone is a powerful oxidizing agent and is used, therefore, as a

bleaching agent, as a disinfectant, and a deodorizer. Air and water

may be purified by ozone. Care must be taken not to inhale even

small quantities of ozone because it is harmful to the body.

Oxygen is the most important nonmetal. Sulfur belongs to the

periodic family headed by oxygen and resembles it chemically, forming

many similar compounds:

PbO FeO H2O COj (C2H5)20

PbS FeS H2S CS2 (C2H5)2S

Sulfur Is the Cornerstone of Chemical Industry.

The Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah, brimstone and fire from

the Lord out of Heaven. — Genesis 20:24.

Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone. — Psalms 11:6.

The ancient Hebrews were evidently quite familiar with the properties

of sulfur (brimstone) which occurs in volcanic deposits in the

Mediterranean region. They undoubtedly knew that sulfur burns

readily, evolving vile, choking fumes. Harry N. Holmes ("Out of the

Test Tube," Emerson Books, Inc.) tells how brimstone of the ancients

has become the cornerstone of modern chemical industry. Sulfur owes

its chief importance in chemical industry to the fact that it is the raw

material from which sulfuric acid,


Sulfur Is One of the Cheapest Raw Materials.

the "work horse" of chemistry, is

Sulfur is very widely

distributed in nature and constitutes about 0.06 per cent of the earth's

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