Element of the day: Xenon
The element name is pronounced /ˈzɛnɒn/ ZEN-on or /ˈziːnɒn/ ZEE-non. A colorless, heavy, odorless noble gas, xenon occurs in the Earth’s atmosphere in trace amounts. Although generally unreactive, xenon can undergo a few chemical reactions such as the formation of xenon hexafluoroplatinate, the first noble gas compound to be synthesized.
Xenon is used in flash lamps and arc lamps, and as a general anesthetic. The first excimer laser design used a xenon dimer molecule (Xe2) as its lasing medium, and the earliest laser designs used xenon flash lamps as pumps. Xenon is also being used to search for hypothetical weakly interacting massive particles and as the propellant for ion thrusters in spacecraft.