Chapter 16-Chemistry Way Below Zero

Chloe Powell


The cold temperatures that exist on this earth can do some seriously wacky things to the elements around us. This chapter focuses in on 4 of them- Tin, Argon, Neodymium, and Rubidium. The cold causes tin to turn to dust or scream, and forces Argon, (a VERY nonreactive element) into a compound! Many of the odd reactions explained in this chapter were either discovered in a lab, or found out my chance. Like how tin atoms can suddenly shift, making weaker crystals, which then causes the tin to become crumbly - all because you dented the side in extreme cold. Scientists learned much from the trials and errors during these experiments.

Sn - Tin

Atomic Number - 50

Mass - 118.710

Period/group - period 5, group 14

Electron configuration - 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 3d104s2 4p6 4d10 5s2 5p2

Classified in other metals.

Tin is naturally occurring in Malaysia, and it is often found with the mineral cassiterite (from which it is then extracted)(Gagnon, n.d.).

It is used to make glass window panes, and used to line cans.

Tin doesn’t rust, which opens it up to be used in many other ways. It is also known for the Tin scream - caused by extreme temperatures that cause the metal to become weaker (chap.16, pg. 145).

The exact time and discoverer of tin is unknown. References of the element go back to Biblical times.

Ar - Argon

Atomic Number - 18

Mass - 39.948

Period/Group - period 3, group 18

Electron Configuration - 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6

Classified as a Noble Gas.

Argon is naturally occurring and is found in the atmosphere.

Argon is used as a protective “layer” in lightbulbs, and keeps other gases out during a certain form of welding.

The word “argon” comes from “Argos” which means inactive.

This element was discovered by Sir William Ramsay and Lord Rayleigh in 1894. (Gagnon, n.d.)

“Argon wears the title belt for the single hardest element humans have forced into a compound” (chap 16, pg, 146). The compound serves no natural purpose and can only exist in solid form at extremely low temperatures.

Nd - Neodymium

Atomic Number - 60

Mass - 144.242

Period/Group - period 6 (no group)

Electron Configuration - 1s2 2s2 2p63s2 3p6 3d104s2 4p6 4d10 4f4 5s2 5p6 6s2

Classified as a rare earth metal.

This element was extracted from another- didymium.

It is used in the making of welders goggles, some types of glass, when in mischmetal, it is used in lighters. (Gagnon, n.d.)

Neodymiums name comes from greek words that mean “new twin”.

This element was discovered by Carl F. Auer von Welsbach in the year 1885.

Nd can be used in a certain kind of glass to create colors! (Gagnon, n.d.)

Rb - Rubidium

Atomic Number - 37

Mass - 85.4678

Period/Group - period 5, group 1

Electron Configuration - 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 3d10 4s2 4p6 5s1

Classified as an alkali metal.

Often found inside the mineral Lepidolite, which is common and found all across the world.

Rubidium can be used in vacuum cleaners, glasses, and possibly spacecrafts. Rubidiums full potential is yet to be discovered, as they believe it has many other uses beyond these that are listed. (Gagnon, n.d.)

This element was discovered by Robert Bunsen and Gustav Kirchhoff in the year of 1861, and is named after a latin word that means “deepest red”.

Rubidium is known to be in many compounds, but nearly all of them have no good use! (Gagnon, n.d.)

Why They Matter!

All of the elements serve a purpose for something. Some have a more common use than others. Tin and Argon are very useful! They both are part of the inner workings of everyday objects that we need (even if we would never guess that they were). Rubidium is a study subject. Its other uses are still being discovered, as it has many. and the idea of just studying them is an important purpose. The more we learn about the things that make up our home, the better we can understand it.


Gagnon, S. (n.d.) The Element Tin. Retrieved from

Gagnon, S. (n.d.) The Element Argon. Retrieved from

Gagnon, S. (n.d.) The Element Neodymium. Retrieved from

Gagnon, S. (n.d.) The Element Rubidium. Retrieved from