|MadSci Network: Chemistry|
Nope... it certainly would not be. Congratulations! You have joined a long line of beginning scientists who have made this classic blunder. No data does not mean no information. I am pretty darn sure you are thinking of the fact that Helium does not react with anything, always seems to be a gas, can't be seen, smelled or tasted, and is altogether inert. (Inert is a technical term for "it just sits there like a lump on a log and does nothing.") Well all this nothingness is something. These are the qualities that make helium, well, helium. Chemical protperties are things like: what does it react with, how easily does it react. And since helieum doesn't react unless really really forced to... and even then not very well... that is its chemical property. The fact that helium doesn't react is in fact a VERY important chemical property. How many elements have THAT property? It's physical properties are also pretty bland... but important for that very fact. An element that is a gas even near absolute zero at normal pressures is pretty darn special. So the thing that you need to remember here is that "no data" is still information. For example: If you are an animal behaviourist and you are observing an animal. If one day you find the animal, and all it does that day is lie there.... well that could lead to several ideas. The animal is dead, sick, or very very tired... and further investigation would ensue. If you were taking readings on an instrument an suddenly it quit giving you readings; time to investigate - did the machine break, are the readings off the scale, is the electrode being eaten away by some unknown property of your mixture? And how about astronomers. How would they feel if one night the moon did nothing? Just hung there in the sky and didn't move? Believe me, there sure as heck wouldn't leave things at "from 7 pm to 5am the moon did nothing." To bring things back around to your original question... No it would not be correct to say Helium has no chemicals properties. It would be closer to the mark to say, the main chemical property of helium as that is does nothing. I hope this points you towards inquiry... and can make an interesting discussion the next time a parent chides you about answering "what did you do in school today" with "nothing." Good Luck Greta Hardin
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