Interesting Hydrogen Facts and History

The Sun - our solar system's hydrogen reactor
The Sun - our solar system's giant hydrogen fusion reactor.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

You could say hydrogen was a bit of an enigma. It is the most common atom, comprising about 75% of the known matter in the universe in terms of mass.  If we're talking purely in terms of the number of atoms in the universe, the ratio is even more impressive, with hydrogen atoms comprising an estimated 90% of the total number of atoms.

Interesting History of Hydrogen Airships and Balloons

Hydrogen Balloon attacked by French villagersThe first Hydrogen Balloon being attacked by terrified French Villagers

From its discovery, the fact that hydrogen is the lightest element made it seemingly a perfect candidate for early air travel.  The first hydrogen ballloon was launched on 27 August 1783 from the Champ de Mars in France which is now the site of the Eiffel tower.  It took almost a quarter of a tonne of sulphuric acid, poured onto half a tonne of iron to produce enough hydroden to fill the 35 cubic meter baloon.  This had to be done over a number of days to fill it though lead pipes, due to the fact that the gas was hot when initially produced, but when it entered the balloon it cooled down and contracted in volume.