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Wed February 19, 2014 The first person to actually isolate and note the presence of these noble gases was Henry Cavendish. He removed all the nitrogen and oxygen chemically from a receptacle containing air. The nitrogen was oxidised to NO2 by electric discharges and absorbed by a sodium hydroxide solution. Remaining oxygen was removed from the mixture by a special adsorber. 1/120 of the gas volume remained unreacted in the receptacle. As we know today, this must have been mainly argon (99.8%) and traces (0.2%) of other noble gases. Two reasons for late discoveries of noble gases are: 1. They are present in extremely low concentrations in our environment. 2. They are very inert.
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