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Phosphorus gas?

  1. Aug 24, 2003 #1
    My last chemistry class was in the 7th grade (currently 10th grader) so bear with me. Last year duing a biology class we were talking about ecology and how phosphorus would cycle through the environment. The reason that the phosphorus cycle is interesting is because phosphorus cannot be a gas, or so my teacher said. I Immediatly questioned this because in my chemistry class i remeber hearing that elements can be in any of the 4 states, but my teacher insisted that it could not. So, who was right?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 24, 2003 #2


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    He probably meant within a living organism. Phosphoros bnoils at just over 500o (like maybe 550?).
  4. Aug 25, 2003 #3
    Your teacher was right. Technically phosphorous can be a gas, but not in the biosphere, the temperature never gets hot enough. And besides, it doesn't occur as elemental phosphorous in the cycle but as inorganic phosphates.
  5. Aug 25, 2003 #4


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    There are detectable phosphines floating about in the biosphere in the vapor phase --- that said, the quantity is probably insignificant as far as atmospheric transport of phosphorus.
  6. Aug 25, 2003 #5
    I agree with him that natural vaporizing phosphorus in nature is a rare sight, but he claimed that it couldn't be a gas at all. Or maybe it was just a miscomunication.
    But this brings up another question. Can all the elements be in all the 4 states?
  7. Aug 26, 2003 #6
    I'm thinking it was a miscommunication. He probably meant it couldn't be a gas in the context of the phosphorous cycle.

    To answer your question, yes, all elements can exist in all 4 states, with one exception. It is believed that helium will remain a liquid at absolute zero, but of course we'll never know.
  8. Aug 28, 2003 #7
    Ahh, that's good to know. I was wondering about that for awhile. I have heard the same about helium, but i thought it was it cannot become a solid at absolute zero at 1 atmosphere of presure. I think that if the presure is increased it can become a solid.
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