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The Atom and Atomic Structure


An atom is the smallest building block of matter. Atoms are made of neutrons, protons and electrons. The nucleus of an atom is extremely small in comparison to the atom.

Most of the atom is just empty space. The rest of the atom consists of a positively charged nucleus of protons and neutrons that are surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons. The nucleus is the center of the atom. An atom is an extremely small particle of matter that retains its identity during chemical reactions. During the latter nineteenth century a series of experiments showed that atoms are comprised of smaller particles. An atom consists of a nucleus and one or more electrons surrounding the nucleus. The nucleus, the core of the atom, has the majority of the mass of the atom and a positive charge. An electron is a very light particle which circles the nucleus. It has a negative charge.

In an electrically neutral atom, the number of electrons equals the positive charge on the nucleus. The nucleus of the atom is composed of smaller particles called neutrons and protons. A proton has a positive charge equal in magnitude to the negative charge of an electron. This means that in an electrically neutral atom, the postive of charge the protons, combined with the negative charge of the electrons, would result in no charge because they would cancel each other out. A proton's mass, however, is a whopping 1836 times that of the electron. A neutron, however, has a mass almost identical to a proton's, but it has no electrical charge associated with it.


Understanding this and knowing this is important because we deal with matter is all around us, and knowing that all matter is made up of atoms is good :)




Molecules and Ions