Micro Life Zone
Asked by haydos69 to Arti, Chris, Dustin, James, Steven on 18 May 2012.
Keywords: atom, particles, subatomic
Atoms are made out of three types of particle, neutrons (neutral) and protons (positively charged) form the nucleus, and electrons (negatively charged) orbit the nucleus.
Protons and neutrons are made of smaller particles called quarks and gluons.
So what makes these and electrons, well maybe strings. I say maybe because it is one of the edges of science where the information hasn’t come in, we just dont know.
Nicely explained, Dustin. 🙂
I’ll just add that the atoms of different elements contains different numbers of these ‘sub-atomic particles’. Each element usually has the same number of protons, neutrons and electrons – for example, helium has 2 protons, 2 neutrons, and 2 electrons; lithium has 3 protons, 3 neutrons, and 3 electrons. Protons and neutrons each weigh 1 mass unit, and electrons are much much smaller (so helium weighs ~4 mass units). Atoms can lose or gain electrons to become ions, and atoms of the same element can sometimes have different numbers of neutrons. These atoms are then called ‘isotopes’ and have different masses. An example is hydrogen, which normally has only 1 proton and 1 electron (its a little unusual because it normally doesn’t have 1 neutron), and weighs ~1 mass unit. There are two other types of naturally occurring hydrogen isotopes – deuterium, which has 1 proton, 1 neutron, and 1 electron, and so weighs 2 mass units; and tritium which has 1 proton, 2 neutrons, and 1 electron (weight of 3 mass units). These three isotopes are all different to each other in some ways, but they are all still hydrogen because they all have 1 proton and 1 electron. Isotopes are used a lot in certain areas of science. I actually have used deuterium a lot in my work.
In chemistry, we mostly deal with the electrons and neutrons, and sometimes protons. Particle physicists are the people who usually study quarks and things that the protons and neutrons are composed of. If anyone watches The Big Bang Theory on tv, this is the area of science that Leonard works in.
Nothing to add here. Great answers guys 🙂
Atoms are made up of protons, neutrons and electrons. As Dustin says, these particles are “composed” of quarks. All of particle physics (the study of the building blocks of atoms) is described by what is called the Standard Model. This model, up to this point, has been very successful in explaining what we see in nature and predicts 16 elementary particles. Fifteen of these particles have been verified to exist. The sixteenth is the famous Higgs Boson, predicted in the mid 1960s. It has never been seen and it is the job of the ~$10 billion Large Hadron Collider to find it. The Higgs Boson is predicted to be a very massive particle and may only be seen in the aftermath of highly energetic particle collisions, which the what the LHC is designed to do.
Hey haydos69. Yep, yep, yep and yep. Nuff said.
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