Hydrogen with the chemical symbol H (from Latin: hydrogenium "water producer"; derived from Greek: ὕδωρ hydōr "water" and γίγνομαι gignomai "to become, to arise" or Latin: generare "to produce, to create") is the lightest and at the same time most common chemical element in the cosmos and accounts for an estimated 75% of the total mass of baryonic matter in the universe. In contrast, hydrogen accounts for only about 0.12% of the total mass of the Earth; in the Earth's crust, hydrogen makes up about 2.9%. Hydrogen is thus the quintessential cosmic chemical element. At -252 °C, hydrogen condenses into a colourless clear liquid, which solidifies into a crystalline solid at -259.2 °C. At high pressure of more than 1011 Pascal, metallic hydrogen is formed; this high-pressure modification has so far only been detected at very high temperatures of several thousand °K. It is assumed that metallic hydrogen occurs around the core of giant gas planets such as Jupiter.
The most common stable hydrogen isotope in nature, 1H, with a proportion of 99.9885(70) %, consists of only one proton in the nucleus and one electron in the shell and is also called protium. In addition, there are two other isotopes that can only be found in nature in traces: Deuterium 2H (also abbreviated as D), which is also stable, with a modest proportion of 0.0115(70) %, and Tritium 3H with 10-15 % (β-emitter, half-life 12.33 years). The nucleus of deuterium, also called deuteron, consists of a proton and a neutron. Tritium contains another neutron in its nucleus (also called triton), is a radioactive beta emitter and decays with a half-life of about 12.32 years.
Unlike in the vastness of the cosmos] hydrogen on Earth occurs almost exclusively in the form of a wide variety of chemical compounds. No other chemical element is known to have as many compounds as hydrogen; by far the most common and best known is water (H2O). Heavy water (D2O) contains deuterium instead. Above all, however, hydrogen, together with carbon, is an essential component of most organic compounds and is found in all living organisms.
Spiritual significance of hydrogen
According to Rudolf Steiner, hydrogen is a substance that is related, as closely as possible, to the physical, and again, as closely as possible, to the spiritual. Hydrogen basically dissolves all earthly matter and makes it related to the cosmos again:
„In living creatures one sees that in a living co-operation of that which out of the spirit in carbon takes the form of a framework with that which out of the astral in nitrogen intersperses the framework with life and makes it sentient, that life is active within in oxygen. That which the spirit has built into the carbon, for which it draws life from the oxygen. All this must be able to disappear again. Not only as far as it disappears on earth, but it must be able to disappear into the cosmos, into the universe. This is done by a substance which, as near as it is possible, is related to the physical, and again, as near as it is possible, is related to the spiritual. This is done by hydrogen, in which, if we speak correctly - in spite of the fact that it is itself the finest thing that is physical - the physical is completely fragmented, carried by sulphur, and flows into the indistinguishable of the universe. Hydrogen carries all that is somehow formed, animated astral, up again into the vastness of the universe, so that it becomes such that it can be taken up again from the universe. Hydrogen actually dissolves everything.“ (Lit.:GA 327, p. 74ff)
In particular, hydrogen is also connected with the I-organisation of the human being:
„You will see that in just the same way as the physical organisation is connected with carbon, the etheric organisation with oxygen, the astral organisation with nitrogen, so the I-organisation is connected with hydrogen.“ (Lit.:GA 312, p. 114)
Rudolf Steiner also calls hydrogen the world phosphorus, which ensures that new life can arise from everything that is subject to fermentation or decay. Hydrogen is particularly active in reproduction:
„As harmful as it is at one end in the living being, in the head, if you deprive it of oxygen, so harmful is it for reproduction if you deprive it of hydrogen. And now we see why in the world hydrogen is present everywhere we look - we can look in every direction. Hydrogen is present in the whole world for the reason that the world would have to be destroyed immediately if there were no hydrogen. In everything where there is reproduction, hydrogen must also work. Now the world is continually being destroyed. You see, the world everywhere is continually passing over into the dead. The rocks are worn away, everything is atomised everywhere. The living beings are rotting, all kinds of fermentation processes, which are also rotting processes, are arising in the world. We actually live by the fact that something is constantly fermenting within us. And only through the fact that something is fermenting can the higher things come into being. That which makes life rise out of decay, yes, that is hydrogen. When hydrogen is formed in darkness, which is the case with mine gas or swamp gas, it has a harmful effect when it is shut off from the light. But when hydrogen develops in the light, as it is spread throughout the world in the light, it is the vitalising agent; it calls forth new life from the decaying, from the fermenting. For hydrogen, as it is everywhere, is essentially the same thing that we have in our matches when we light them: Phosphorus. Certainly, in chemistry hydrogen is quite a different substance from phosphorus; but only because chemistry cannot go so far as to convert phosphorus into hydrogen. But if chemistry were to go further than it is today, it would be able to convert phosphorus into hydrogen (just as there is red and white phosphorus). The hydrogen that is spread around the world, that is the world phosphorus.“ (Lit.:GA 351, p. 67f)
- Rudolf Steiner: Geisteswissenschaft und Medizin, GA 312 (1999), ISBN 3-7274-3120-2 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Geisteswissenschaftliche Grundlagen zum Gedeihen der Landwirtschaft. Landwirtschaftlicher Kursus., GA 327 (1999) English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Mensch und Welt. Das Wirken des Geistes in der Natur. Über das Wesen der Bienen, GA 351 (1999) English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
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Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
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Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English (by Steiner Online Library).
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold
steinerbooks.org - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.