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The atomic number also tells you the number of _________ in a neutral atom of that...

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swimchic248 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 4, 2012 at 5:07 AM via web

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The atomic number also tells you the number of _________ in a neutral atom of that element. Please help!

I'm really confused.

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bandmanjoe | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted April 4, 2012 at 6:02 AM (Answer #1)

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The atomic number of any element on the periodic table tells you not only the number of protons in the nucleus of an atom of that element, it also reveals the number of electrons, which are circling the nucleus in an electron cloud.  Electrons are tiny particles, so small it takes 2000 of them to equal the mass of a proton!  But they have powerful negative charges that counterbalance the positive charge of the protons.  There is a one to one ration between the number of protons and the number of electrons.  An atom that has 6 protons also has 6 electrons.  The only way this balance can change is if the atom loses or gains electrons; then the atom is called an ion, which is a charged atom.  The charge comes from the imbalance between the protons and the electrons.  The other atomic particle, the neutron, has no charge and is located in the nucleus with the protons.

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