- Atom was the name given to the
smallest bit of matter. The word means uncuttable. Of course we know now that
atoms can be reduced or cut further.
There are 92 naturally occurring kinds of atoms. In elaborate laboratories, scientists have increased that number to 110, as of this writing.
An atom contains at least one central, positively charged body and one circling, negatively charged body. Every atom is unique in that the number of positive charges normally equals the number of negative charges. The positive bodies are protons, and the negative bodies are electrons. The circling nature of the electrons is often referred to as a negative cloud. All atoms except hydrogen have at least one neutron in their nucleus. The neutron has mass, but no charge. The hydrogen atom has one proton and one electron, but no neutron.
If the nucleus of an atom could be enlarged to about the size of a dime, the circling cloud of the electron or electrons would be nearly the size of a football field. Think about it. A half -inch cube of nuclear material would weigh about 10 million tons. The figures lose their meaning because it is difficult for our minds to grasp these facts. In the end, we must remember the energy and matter are concepts, and that they are interchangeable. See articles.
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