Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Hydrogen is an anomaly

  1. Nov 8, 2014 #1
    I've been wondering what is up with hydrogen. It shares little more than basic commonality with any other atom, this strikes me as strange as all atoms share some properties with those around them on the periodic table whether be it nuclear, physical, or chemical. I asked a reputable source and she attributed it to the fact that Hydrogen is little more than a proton, but then deuterium or tritium should change dramatically given the addition of the neutrons that make the difference between Hydrogen and other atoms.

    Does anyone have any explanation as to what makes Hydrogen so different?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 8, 2014 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    What exactly is so different about hydrogen than the other atoms?

  4. Nov 8, 2014 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    As far as chemical properties are concerned, H1, H2, and H3 are similar.
    Many nuclides have unusual properties, not just H1.
  5. Nov 8, 2014 #4


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    How should the isotopes of hydrogen 'change dramatically'? This is a rather vague statement.
  6. Nov 10, 2014 #5


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    The neutrons are not what make the difference between different elements in terms of chemical properties. It is the protons that do this. If you look at other elements, all the different isotopes have the same chemical properties. Hydrogen is no different.
  7. Nov 10, 2014 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    I don't think this is what the OP is asking, but it's worth noting for those that claim that there can be no effect of neutron number on chemistry that there is some scope for isotopes to change the chemistry - in the kinetics of the system.

    It's easy to see in the harmonic oscillator analogy - if you change the weight of the ball on the spring, the behaviour changes.

    This is actually most obvious for isotopes of hydrogen. Moving from hydrogen to deuterium doubles the mass of the atom, tritium triples it. This is why there are some investigations into replacing hydrogen with deuterium for drugs (although it is difficult patent-wise). See:



    I didn't know this until I had to do some work with deuterium last year. I think this is super neat.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Discussions: Hydrogen is an anomaly
  1. Metallic Hydrogen (Replies: 8)

  2. Fictitious hydrogen (Replies: 7)

  3. Hydrogen spectroscopy (Replies: 1)