Elementary, My Dear Watson: 1 – The Nitrogen Fix

Elementary, My Dear Watson - The Nitrogen Fix

Science has a 500 pound gorilla in room that is best not discussed in too much detail.

The gorilla in question is the origin of the Nitrogen in the atmosphere and oceans.

Gases in Air And Dissolved in Sea Water

Water Encyclopedia

Fundamentally, the estimated 25 parts per million [by mass] of nitrogen in the Earth’s bulk provides an unconvincing source for the 753,000 parts per million [by mass] of nitrogen found in the Earth’s atmosphere.


Compounding the problem are the natural stores [sinks] of nitrogen which include all organisms [dead or alive], organic waste and mineral deposits:

Nitrogen is present in all living organisms, in proteins, nucleic acids, and other molecules.
It typically makes up around 4% of the dry weight of plant matter, and around 3% of the weight of the human body.
It is a large component of animal waste (for example, guano), usually in the form of urea, uric acid, ammonium compounds, and derivatives of these nitrogenous products, which are essential nutrients for all plants that cannot fix atmospheric nitrogen.

Guano (via Spanish, ultimately from the Quechua wanu) is the excrement of seabirds, cave-dwelling bats, pinnipeds, or (in English usage) birds more generally.

Coal is composed primarily of carbon along with variable quantities of other elements, chiefly hydrogen, sulfur, oxygen, and nitrogen.

Lignite, often referred to as brown coal, is a soft brown combustible sedimentary rock that is formed from naturally compressed peat.

Peat (turf) is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation.
One of the most common components is Sphagnum moss, although many other plants can contribute. Soils that contain mostly peat are known as a histosol.
Peat forms in wetland conditions, where flooding obstructs flows of oxygen from the atmosphere, slowing rates of decomposition.
Mires, particularly bogs, are the most important source of peat, but other less common wetland types also deposit peat, including fens, pocosins, and peat swamp forests.
Other words for lands dominated by peat include moors, or muskegs.

Niter (American English) or nitre (most English-speaking countries) is the mineral form of potassium nitrate, KNO3, also known as saltpeter in America or saltpetre in other English speaking countries.

Nitratine (also nitratite), also known as cubic niter (UK: nitre), soda niter or Chile saltpeter (UK: saltpetre), is a mineral, the naturally occurring form of sodium nitrate, NaNO3. Chemically it is the Na-analogue of niter.

Ironically, the strong bonding of the nitrogen molecule [N2] prevents plants and animals from directly processing molecular nitrogen [N2] to obtain vital nitrogen atoms.

The extremely strong bond in elemental nitrogen dominates nitrogen chemistry, causing difficulty for both organisms and industry in converting the N2 into useful compounds, but at the same time causing release of large amounts of often useful energy when the compounds burn, explode, or decay back into nitrogen gas.

Nitrogen is an essential building block of amino and nucleic acids, essential to life on Earth.

Elemental nitrogen in the atmosphere cannot be used directly by either plants or animals, and must be converted to a reduced (or ‘fixed’) state to be useful for higher plants and animals.

However, there are bacteria that “fix” atmospheric nitrogen so it can be consumed by other organisms.

Specific bacteria (e.g., Rhizobium trifolium) possess nitrogenase enzymes that can fix atmospheric nitrogen (see nitrogen fixation) into a form (ammonium ion) that is chemically useful to higher organisms.
This process requires a large amount of energy and anoxic conditions.
Such bacteria may live freely in soil (e.g., Azotobacter) but normally exist in a symbiotic relationship in the root nodules of leguminous plants (e.g. clover, Trifolium, or soybean plant, Glycine max) and fertilizer trees.
Nitrogen-fixing bacteria are also symbiotic with a number of unrelated plant species such as alders (Alnus) spp., lichens, Casuarina, Myrica, liverworts, and Gunnera.

And there are microbes that release nitrogen gases [N2, N2O] back into the atmosphere.

Denitrification is a microbially facilitated process of nitrate reduction that may ultimately produce molecular nitrogen (N2) through a series of intermediate gaseous nitrogen oxide products.
This respiratory process reduces oxidized forms of nitrogen in response to the oxidation of an electron donor such as organic matter.
The preferred nitrogen electron acceptors in order of most to least thermodynamically favorable include nitrate (NO3−), nitrite (NO2−), nitric oxide (NO), nitrous oxide (N2O) finally resulting in the production of dinitrogen (N2) completing the nitrogen cycle.

Unsurprisingly, the simplistic Nitrogen Cycles [terrestrial and marine] diagrams created by post-normal science sidestep the origin of nitrogen with “closed loops” that have neither beginning nor end [and ignore the natural accumulation chain: vegetation => peat => lignite => coal].

Nitrogen Cycle Gases


This is all achieved [without a blush] even though the Nitrogen Cycle is poorly understood.

The ocean’s nitrogen budget has escaped quantification.

Ocean science: Balancing ocean nitrogen
Wolfgang Koeve & Paul Kähler

NOx emissions in low NOx environments.
More observations of nitrogen species are required in a wider variety of environments to test our current understanding of the processes controlling the emissions of nitrogen.
Satellite observations.
More observations of NOx and NOy especially in profiles are required in a wider variety of environments to assess satellite retrieval algorithms and to aid in the interpretation of satellite data.

NOx sinks.
There remains significant uncertainty in the rate of reactive uptake of N2O5 onto aerosol. Further laboratory studies of uptake onto different aerosol types under different temperature and relative humidity regimes are needed to reduce the uncertainty.
Field observations of N2O5 and NO3 concentrations are needed to test model predictions.
Role of NO3 as an oxidant.
More observations of the distribution of NO3 over a variety of regions and timescales to assess the extent of the impact of NO3 chemistry and its vertical distribution.
Production of HONO.
Increased observation datasets of HONO within a variety of environments and conditions are needed as are laboratory studies of the potential heterogeneous production mechanisms for HONO
Organic chemistry-1.
An assessment of the quality of CH3CHO observations should be made to validate the observations made in remote regions.
Organic chemistry-2.
The chemistry of the complex organics species produced by the oxidation of isoprene in the presence of NOx should be studied in more detail both in the laboratory and in the field.
Halogen chemistry.
Observations of reactive halogen species over a variety of environments and conditions would allow an evaluation of the impact of halogen chemistry on NOx concentrations.
Response of biosphere to changing emissions of oxidized and reduced nitrogen.
Coupled biosphere, chemistry, climate simulations are needed to assess the impact of
changing emissions on the planet

Links between the meteorologists and the atmospheric composition modelling community should be strengthened so that the parameterization of these processes can be done on the best possible footing.
Subgrid issues.
Approaches to investigating sub-gridscale issues should be developed, evaluated and considered for implementation into global models of the atmospheric cycling of N.
Boundary layer issues.
We should improve our understanding of the transport of species through the boundary layer under stable conditions through field and computer experiments.

The emission and deposition of ammonia should be considered as a single process with appropriate parameterization within models.
Loss of organic nitrogen species.
More detailed process studies of the removal of organic NOy from the atmosphere are needed to quantify this issue.
Representation of deposition within models.
Recent advances in our knowledge of the fundamental processes leading to the deposition of nitrogen species should be included in models. Mechanisms to represent the sub-grid nature of deposition should also be developed and implemented.

Understanding and Quantifying the Atmospheric Nitrogen Cycle
R.A. Cox, David Fowler, Paul Monks and Peter Borrell – 2006

However, the mainstream does acknowledge there is a mismatch between the “high concentration” of atmospheric nitrogen and the “overall low abundance” of nitrogen in the Earth.

However, this high concentration does not reflect nitrogen’s overall low abundance in the makeup of the Earth…


But, without even pausing for breath, the mainstream inventively invokes a wonderfully selective “solar evaporation” process whereby nitrogen [and neon] miraculously “escaped” while being “driven out” of the planetesimals during the formation of the Solar System.

However, this high concentration does not reflect nitrogen’s overall low abundance in the makeup of the Earth, from which most of the element escaped by solar evaporation, early in the planet’s formation.[citation needed]

Due to the volatility of elemental nitrogen and also its common compounds with hydrogen and oxygen, nitrogen and its compounds were driven out of the planetesimals in the early Solar System by the heat of the Sun, and in the form of gases, were lost to the rocky planets of the inner Solar System.

Nitrogen is therefore a relatively rare element on these inner planets, including Earth, as a whole.

In this, nitrogen resembles neon, which has a similar high abundance in the universe, but is also rare in the inner Solar System.


Incredibly, the “escaped” nitrogen that was “driven out” from Earth somehow managed to secretly return to Earth [in an unspecified process] and bury itself deep into the planet so it could subsequently form a “second atmosphere” via “outgassing from volcanism”.

Second atmosphere
The next atmosphere, consisting largely of nitrogen plus carbon dioxide and inert gases, was produced by outgassing from volcanism, supplemented by gases produced during the late heavy bombardment of Earth by huge asteroids.


Obviously, the contradictory settled science regarding the origins of the Earth’s “high concentration” of atmospheric nitrogen is truly half baked.

However, the mainstream is playing for really high stakes here because the 14N isotope of nitrogen [which represents 99.634% of all nitrogen on Earth] is created by nuclear fusion.

Nitrogen is a common element in the universe, and is estimated to be approximately the seventh most abundant chemical element by mass in the universe, our galaxy and the Solar System.

In these places it was originally created by fusion processes from carbon and hydrogen in supernovas.

Molecular nitrogen and nitrogen compounds have been detected in interstellar space by astronomers using the Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer.


There are two stable isotopes of nitrogen: 14N and 15N.
By far the most common is 14N (99.634%), which is produced in the CNO cycle in stars.


The CNO-I Cycle


Therefore, the validity of three cherished tenets from the post-normal settled science canon rest upon the origins of Earth’s “high concentration” of atmospheric nitrogen:

1. The Solar System formed from the remnants of a Supernova.

2. Nuclear fusion only occurs in Stars and Supernovas.

3. Nuclear fission and nuclear fusion could never occur in Earth’s core.

Unfortunately [for the mainstream] these three doctrines hang by the incredible thread of nitrogen being selectively “driven out” from Earth by the Sun before secretly returning to the bowels of the Earth so it could be assigned top billing in an atmospheric second coming movie spectacular featuring volcanic “outgassing” and a “late heavy bombardment”.

Frankly, the mainstream narrative for nitrogen is impossible, improbable and implausible.

Unfortunately [for the mainstream] the only plausible, probable and possible alternative to the mainstream gospel of the second coming [of nitrogen] is terrestrial nuclear fusion.

Therefore, in the interests of Science, let’s examine the atmospheric story of argon…

Gallery | This entry was posted in Astrophysics, Atmospheric Science, Earth, Inflating Earth, Inventions and Deceptions, Science, Solar System. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Elementary, My Dear Watson: 1 – The Nitrogen Fix

  1. PeterMG says:

    As I understand it the amount of N2 in Venus’s atmosphere is proportional to the weight of N2 found in our atmosphere when the mass of the planets is compared. The difference is our water condensed, we got life and the CO2 was used up leaving us with a mainly N2 atmosphere. Simplistic I know but no one is looking into the details as it is likely to spoil the Greenhouse gas theory.

  2. Pingback: Main Sequence – Red Dwarfs and Gas Giants | MalagaBay

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