What is an Atom?

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  2. March 5, 2013 7:31 pm

What is an Atom?

So, What IS an Atom Anyway?

An atom is the most basic form of matter that comprises of electrons that are negatively charged surrounding a dense nucleus. These objects are miniscule in size with the diameter smaller than a nanometer. The majority of atoms’ mass, which is about 99.94 percent, is concentrated around the atom’s nucleus.

As stated above, atoms are made up of a cloud of negatively charged electrons surrounding a dense nucleus. In reality, the atom contains different types of subatomic particles. These particles are electrons, protons, and electrons. The negative electrical charged electron is the least substantial of these particles. Larger than the electron, protons are electrically charged positive. The biggest of the subatomic particles is the neutron with a neutral charge.

The nucleus of atoms are made up of protons and neutrons bound together, called nucleons. A residual force keeps the nucleons of the nucleus together, which is an attractive potential. The amount of protons in an atom determines its atomic number. The amount of neutrons in that same element may vary and this is called the isotope. The stability of the nucleus is dependent upon the quantity of neutrons in the nucleus compared to the quantity of protons.

The nuclear properties of atoms identify whether an atom is the same chemical element or a different isotope of that same chemical element. For example, two atoms containing the same amount of protons are said to be in the same chemical element. If an atom has the identical quantity of protons, but a different quantity of electrons, then that atom is said to be a different isotope of that same chemical element. The table of the elements is a set of elements with varying atomic numbers from hydrogen, containing one proton to ununoctium, which contains 118 protons. All elements with an atomic number that is greater than 82 are considered to be radioactive.

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