The Discovery of Hydrogen

In 1766, Henry Cavendish of Britain reported the nature of hydrogen in detail in his thesis. Although he was recognized as the one who discovered hydrogen, the term hydrogen was actually coined by Antoine Lavoisier of France in 1779.

The Origin of the Word Hydrogen

“Hydrogen” comes from Greek “hydro”(water) and “gennao” (made of). The Japanese for hydrogen is a combination of two characters “sui”(water) and “so”(element). These are two ancient and highly developed cultures that recognized the importance of hydrogen as a building block of life.

The Most Abundant Element in the Universe

Hydrogen is present in just about 90% of the known universe. Hydrogen in an unaltered state is the most simplistic element on the periodic chart. It is the first element with one electron and one proton and also has the least amount of mass amongst all the elements in the universe. It’s easy to see why hydrogen is one of the most critical elements essential to life.

Hydrogen is Essential to Life

Hydrogen exists in many forms like water or organic matter. This makes it hard to appreciate its existence and importance in our daily lives. However, it is one of the most indispensable elements in all of existence. If we go by the weight proportion in the human body, hydrogen is the third heaviest element (10%) after oxygen (65%) and carbon (18%) despite being the smallest and lightest of all elements. Moreover, the various compounds that make up the human body all contain hydrogen, which is another reason why it’s called the mother of all elements.

Hydrogen can also be found in our foods. The three nutrients: carbohydrate, protein and fats are essential as the daily source of energy. In particular, carbohydrates (glucocorticoid) and fats can be transformed into energy, and hydrogen plays an important role when these nutrients are transformed into energy. Not only are they in our food source, the double helix structure of DNA itself is a result of hydrogen playing the role of bonding the four nucleic acids that make up DNA.

Hydrogen Atom
Henry Cavendish and Antoine Lavoisier
Hydrogen Periodic Chart