Science: Noble Combine

Argon, krypton, xenon, neon, helium and niton are called ''the noble gases" because, like supercilious bluebloods, they disdain to enter into chemical compounds with other substances. As long ago as 1896 noble argon was thought to have been caught in a fleeting intimacy with water, but that and other reported associations of the noble gases were so dubious that chemistry textbooks continue to label the six gases "inert, incapable of forming compounds."

Last week the word was out that the books would have to change their tune, as the result of four years'...

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