Physics

Werner Israel relaxes into the barber chair, daydreaming. He’s thinking about his pending retirement and move to Victoria, British Columbia, while the hair stylist throws a protective cape over his chest and fastens it behind his neck. A 20-something woman, she’s been cutting his hair for about two years. The shop is in an Edmonton strip mall on 87th Avenue, not far from the...

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Q: I'm having a debate with a friend about the supposed benefits of filling your tires with Nitrogen gas. The major claim seems to be that N2 is less thermally expansive than normal air, so your tires will not increase or decrease pressure as much when temperatures change. I remember the Ideal Gas Law (PV=nRT), but the value of R, the ideal gas constant, seems to be a "close enough" approximation of how most gasses behave. I've read that most diatomic gases behave pretty much identically under the normal range of temperature and pressure we're talking about, but I can't find a difinative answer if pure nitrogen has different thermal expansion properties vs normal air (assume 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 1% argon). To really put this to bed, I need a specific value of R for all three gasses. Any thoughts?

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In the news

Pushing the limits of chemistry with iridium

October 22, 2014

Canadian scientists working with the element iridium in Gary Schrobilgen's lab at McMaster university set a new record for the highest formal oxidation state in the periodic table of the elements. Oxidation state describes the number of electrons an atom loses or gains when it joins with other atoms in chemical compounds; the higher the oxidation state, the more electrons, critical in many applications, especially batteries. Previously the highest number was 8. Working with Chinese and German colleagues, the scientists created a gaseous form of iridium tetroxide reaching an oxidation state of 9. More at the Science Media Centre...

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