The Neon Day Thread

My last few element open threads were complex, so here’s a nice easy one. Neon is a noble gas. That means that neon will do its absolute utmost not to react with any other element to form compounds. Just like how none of us like interacting with people.

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Noble gases form the rightmost column in the standard Periodic Table layout. They range from element #2, helium, down to element #86, radon. (The last square in the column, the one for oganesson, is gray because that element is new and hasn’t been well-studied because it decays rapidly. Check back later once they’ve made more of it.)

An interesting side effect of neon’s nobility is that a balloon filled with neon will float in air. Neon atoms are heavier than nitrogen and oxygen, the principle components of Earth’s atmosphere, but the catch is that nitrogen and oxygen bond with themselves into diatomic molecules. A cloud of non-binding neon atoms captured in a balloon will (slowly) float upward, away from all this bullshit.

Neon is the most familiar ingredient in what is formally known as a gas-discharge lamp. Any light with a shaped glass tube is commonly called a neon light, but neon only glows a specific shade of orange-red. You can witness this scientific miracle on the seedy side of whatever town you’re currently in.


When not charged, neon is colorless. In fact, there’s neon around you right now, as a fraction of a fraction of the atmosphere we breathe.


Neon, like many gasses, is “made” by simply cooling down regular air until the individual elements in it start raining out. I’m actually not super clear on what the gas manufacturing people do then. Maybe they just suck the liquid neon up with an eyedropper, who knows.

Anyway, happy Friday.