Today’s post is part of a special series here on Planet Pailly called Sciency Words. Every Friday, we take a look at a new and interesting scientific term to help us all expand our scientific vocabularies together. Today’s word is:
In colloquial English, the word volatile is an adjective used to describe things like the stock market or the Middle East. But as a technical, scientific term, volatile is a noun.
Volatiles are chemicals that tend to turn into gas at relatively low temperatures or when exposed to a vacuum (like the vacuum of space). Examples include:
Many volatiles are so eager to become gases that they’ll sublimate, meaning they’ll transform from solid to gas without bothering to be liquids first.
As we continue our exploration of the Solar System, we’ll be talking about this class of chemicals a lot. They’re especially important if you want to understand why Mercury is the way that it is. More about that on Monday.
Volatiles from Wikipedia
Outgassing from Wikipedia