The elements: The source of the variety in the universe

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Elements are fundamental substances made up of collections of atoms of the same type. There is a wide variety of elements, from radioactive ones such as uranium, to iron, or mercury that is liquid at room temperature. It is, of course, the chemical structure of the elements created by Allah out of nothing that makes this variety possible.

There are 109 elements that have been identified so far. The entire universe, our earth, and all animate and inanimate beings are formed by the arrangement of these 109 elements in various combinations. Thus far, we saw that all elements are made up of atoms that are similar to each other, which, in turn are made up of the same particles.

THE ELEMENTS
Elements consist of atoms of the same type.
Their General Features:
• They are pure substances.
• The atom is their smallest building block.
• They cannot be broken down into simpler components by and chemical or physical means.
• They have specific melting and boiling points.
• They have unique, fixed masses.
• They are homogeneous.
• They are depicted by the use of symbols.
• They are found in solid, liquid and gas forms at room temperature in nature.

So, if all the atoms constituting the elements are made up of the same particles, what then is it that makes the elements different from each other and causes the formation of infinitely diverse matters?

It is the number of protons in the nuclei of the atoms that principally differentiate the elements from each other. There is one proton in the hydrogen atom, the lightest element, 2 protons in the helium atom, the second lightest element, 79 protons in the gold atom, 8 protons in the oxygen atom and 26 protons in the iron atom. What differentiates gold from iron and iron from oxygen is simply the different number of protons in their atoms. The air we breathe, our bodies, the plants and animals, planets in space, animate and inanimate, bitter and sweet, solid and liquid, everything… all of these are ultimately made up of protons, neutrons and electrons.

Chemistry is the branch of science that studies the internal structure of matter. The basis of chemistry, in turn, is the periodic table. This was first put together by the Russian chemist Dmitry Ivanovich Mendeleyev according to the atomic structures of the different elements on Earth. The first element in the periodic table is hydrogen, because this is the simplest of all the elements, having a single proton in its nucleus. A single electron revolves around this proton.

Elements and Technology

Cars, computers, televisions, the ovens in our homes, the telephones we use…

All of these products consist of metals such as iron, copper, zinc and aluminum, and plastic, a side-product of oil. In other words, were these raw materials, metals in particular, not present on Earth, or if mankind lacked the means to exploit them, there would be no technology facilitating our lives.

Technology is the result of human beings’ shaping the elements present in the Earth according to a specific purpose. Even when we examine just a few of these elements we see what a miraculous structure these substances, the presence of which we are so familiar with, actually possess. One of these is the element iron, which is of the greatest importance for both technology and life.

The Importance of Iron for Life

Iron is one of the most widespread elements in the world and comprises around 5% of the Earth’s crust. This element plays a major role in all stages of life, from the basic physical balances on the Earth we inhabit to our being able to make use of the air we breathe.

Iron is also of the greatest importance to our respiratory systems. This substance forms a delicate compound together with the oxygen in the hemoglobin in human blood. Thanks to this, the oxygen atoms, which have a highly combustive effect, are kept under control. Iron directs oxygen, a highly important source of energy, to the cell’s respiratory mechanism. In other words, even our ability to breathe is linked to the level of iron in the body. 

 Let us for a moment imagine there were no iron atoms:

• In that case life would be impossible and the planet we live on would be uninhabitable.
• The Earth could not have warmed up when it first came into existence, and therefore the atmosphere and hydrosphere could not be formed.
• The magnetic field that protects the Earth from meteors could not have formed, and there would be no radiation belts or ozone layer. In other words, the Earth would be a dead planet.
• Iron is the most important building block for the civilizations founded by human beings because industry is dependent on steel and steel is a compound of iron and carbon. All of the products of the technology that facilitates and enhances the quality of our lives today are reflections of technology. Were it not for iron, the level of technology on Earth would be no higher than one of simple wooden implements.

Mercury and Its Wide Field of Application

Mercury, an element present in air, water and soil, assumes a number of forms in these environments: metallic mercury, inorganic and organic mercury compounds. These mercury compounds are used in;

Thermometers, barometers, vacuum pumps, and mercury and fluorescent lamps;
Mirror silvering and in the manufacture of gold and silver;
In certain electrical circuit switches;
In the manufacture and acquisition in order to form amalgams with gold; 
In pigment manufacture, batteries, the production of catalyzers in tooth fillings and vaccinations;
As a medical treatment, in various skin creams, for example. It is also used in pharmaceuticals, antiseptics and disinfectants.

IN BRIEF, IN BRIEF...
Other Elements That Support for Life

*All the elements in the periodic table have been given special tasks to support life.
* The periodic table contains 92 elements, from hydrogen to uranium. The elements that follow uranium are not naturally occurring. For that reason they are manufactured in modern laboratories.
* Twenty-five of the 92 elements in the periodic table are directly essential for life. Eleven of these, hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, sodium, magnesium, phosphorus, sulfur, chlorine, potassium and calcium, are basic elements that make up 99% of living organisms. The other 14 elements, vanadium, chrome, manganese, iron, cobalt, nickel, copper, zinc, molybdenum, boron, silicon, selenium, fluorine and iodine, are found at very low levels in living bodies, but still perform vital functions.
This broad spectrum contains atoms linked to different groups within the periodic table. (The periodic table contains groups divided according to their atomic properties.) This shows that all the different elemental groups in the periodic table are used for life in some way. In their book The Biological Chemistry of the Elements, J.J.R. Frausto da Silva and R.J.P. Williams write:
The biological elements seem to have been selected from practically all groups and subgroups of the periodic table... and this means that practically all kinds of chemical properties are associated with life processes within the limits imposed by environmental constraints.


  
Carbon and Its Compounds

Carbon is the most vital element for living beings, because all living organisms are constructed from compounds of carbon.

Structures as diverse as the cell membrane, the horns of an elk, the trunk of a redwood, the lens of the eye, and the venom of a spider are composed of carbon compounds.

Carbon, combined with hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen in many different quantities and geometric arrangements, results in a vast assortment of materials with vastly different properties.

So, what is the reason for carbon's ability to form approximately 1.7 million compounds?

One of the most significant properties of carbon is its ability to form chains very easily by lining carbon atoms up one after another. The shortest carbon chain is made up of two carbon atoms. Despite the unavailability of an exact figure in the number of carbons that make up the longest carbon chain, we can talk about a chain with seventy links.

Concerning the importance of carbon for living beings, the British chemist Nevil Sidgwick writes in Chemical Elements and Their Compounds:

Carbon is unique among the elements in the number and variety of the compounds which it can form. Over a quarter of a million have already been isolated and described, but this gives a very imperfect idea of its powers, since it is the basis of all forms of living matter.

As the chemist Sidgwick stated above, the human mind is insufficient to fully understand the potential of this atom that has only six protons, six neutrons and six electrons. It is impossible for even a single property of this atom, which is vital for life, to be formed by chance. The carbon atom, like everything else, has been created by Allah perfectly adapted for the bodies of living beings Allah encompasses down to their very atoms.

What is in the heavens and in the earth belongs to Allah. Allah encompasses all things. (Surat An-Nisa': 126)

Radioactive Elements

Radioactive elements at the end of the periodic table have been marshaled in the service of human life. In Nature's Destiny, Michael Denton describes in detail the essential role that these radioactive elements, such as uranium, play in the formation of the Earth's geological structure. Naturally occurring radioactivity is closely associated with the fact that the Earth's core is able to retain its heat. That heat is what keeps the core, which consists of iron and nickel, liquid. This liquid core is the source of the Earth's magnetic field which, as we have seen elsewhere, helps shield the planet from dangerous radiation and particles from space while performing other functions as well.

Even the inert gases and elements such as the rare-earth metals, none of which seem to be involved in the support of life, are apparently there because of the demands of ensuring that the range of naturally-occurring elements would extend as far as uranium.

Were it not for this wide variety of substances on Earth, if only oxygen and carbon existed, then we could only manage to feed ourselves, use water, and carve wood and stones. In fact, bearing in mind that oxygen and carbon are also elements, we could not even do that; because life would not exist at all!

Allah Is He Who Creates All Things in Harmony

As we have seen, there is a purpose aimed towards human life in every part of the universe, as well as flawless harmony and balance intended for that purpose. Whichever feature of matter we may examine, we see the Infinite Knowledge, Reason and Might of Almighty Allah, who created matter out of nothing. Everything has submitted to His will, and all things are therefore in a state of perfect harmony.

This conclusion drawn by 20th century science confirms a fact revealed in the Qur’an. Almighty Allah, the Creator of all things, reveals in the Qur’an that every detail in the universe reveals the perfection of His Creation:

He who created the seven heavens in layers. You will not find any flaw in the creation of the All-Merciful. Look again – do you see any gaps? Then look again and again. Your sight will return to you dazzled and exhausted!  (Surat Al-Mulk, 3-4)

2008-07-17 23:23:14
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