Since -183 degrees Celsius is the boiling point
of oxygen, it boils, meaning that it turns
gas from a liquid . The process is the same as
water boiling at 100 degrees Celsius, where a
large amount of gas evolves (comes off) from the
liquid. The same boiling process for oxygen just
happens at a much colder temperature. The more
detailed process on a molecular level is that at
-183 degrees, the surroundings have enough energy
to give to many oxygen molecules such that the
attraction between molecules can be overcome, and
many oxygen molecules can thus escape the liquid.
Oxygen is the third most common element in the
universe, and it makes up about 20% of the air
that we breathe. The boiling point of oxygen is
-182.96 degrees Celsius (under 1 standard
atmosphere). This means at temperatures below
that point, oxygen is a solid or a liquid, and at
temperatures above that point, oxygen is a gas.
So at -183 degrees Celsius, oxygen is a
liquid. You can think of water as an analogy:
between 0 and 100 degrees Celsius, water is a
liquid, above it’s a gas (steam), and below it is
a solid (ice). Indeed, at a colder temperature
(-218 degrees Celsius), oxygen is a solid!
Liquid oxygen has many important uses in
science, medicine, and technology. For instance,
liquid oxygen (also known as Lox) is often a
part of many different types of rocket fuel,
including the rockets that sent astronauts to the
moon and for the space shuttle’s engines.
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