Stories About Chemistry
or the Transition of Quantity into Quality Exemplified
Your breath comes easier after a thunderstorm. The air is clear and charged with freshness. This is not just a poetical image. Thunderclaps result in the formation of ozone gas in the atmosphere, and it is this gas that makes the air seem cleaner.
Ozone is essentially oxygen. The difference is that the oxygen molecule contains two atoms of the element, while the ozone molecule contains three. O2 and O3, one atom more or one atom less of oxygen, should that make a big difference? It does make a very big difference: Ozone and oxygen are entirely different substances.
Without oxygen there is no life. On the other hand, ozone in large concentrations kills all living things. It is a most powerful oxidizing agent, second only to fluorine. On combining with organic substances ozone immediately destroys them. When attacked by ozone all the metals, except for gold and platinum, change rapidly into their oxides.