What is an atom?

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sciencesolve | Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The atom is the fundamental particle of matter that consists of protons, neutrons and electrons. The protons and neutrons are located in the central nucleus, while electrons surround the nucleus. The atom cannot be split by any chemical means.

The protons are positively charged, while electrons are negatively charged. If the charges of protons and electrons are equal but opposite, the atoms are neutral. If the number of electrons is larger than the number of protons, the atom is called anion. If the number of electrons is smaller than the number of protons, the atom is called cation.

An element can have different number of neutrons, but the same number of protons, each combination of neutrons and protons defining an isotope of the element.

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ayl0124 | Student, Grade 12 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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An atom is the basic building block of matter. It is composed of a nucleus with neutrons (neutral charge) and protons (positive charge). There is also a cloud of electrons (negative charge) that surround the nucleus. If the number of protons and electrons do not equal, the atom is an ion. You can differentiate atoms by the number of protons it has, which is the same thing as an element's atomic number. Atoms are bonded to form molecules and form larger substances. 

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shrutigopal | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Honors

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here is the answer...hope it helps you.... An atom is the basic unit of an element. An atom is a form of matter which may not be further broken down using any chemical means. A typical atom consists of protons, neutrons and electrons. All matter consists of particles called atoms. This is a list of the basic characteristics of atoms: •Atoms cannot be divided using chemicals. They do consist of parts, which include protons, neutrons, and electrons, but an atom is a basic chemical building block of matter. •Each electron has a negative electrical charge. •Each proton has a positive electrical charge. The charge of a proton and an electron are equal in magnitude, yet opposite in sign. Electrons and protons are electrically attracted to each other. •Each neutron is electrically neutral. In other words, neutrons do not have a charge and are not electrically attracted to either electrons or protons. •Protons and neutrons are about the same size as each other and are much larger than electrons. The mass of a proton is essentially the same as that of a neutron. The mass of a proton is 1840 times greater than the mass of an electron. •The nucleus of an atom contains protons and neutrons. The nucleus carries a positive electrical charge. •Electrons move around outside the nucleus. •Almost all of the mass of an atom is in its nucleus; almost all of the volume of an atom is occupied by electrons. •The number of protons (also known as its atomic number) determines the element. Varying the number of neutrons results in isotopes. Varying the number of electrons results in ions. Isotopes and ions of an atom with a constant number of protons are all variations of a single element. •The particles within an atom are bound together by powerful forces. In general, electrons are easier to add or remove from an atom than a proton or neutron. Chemical reactions largely involve atoms or groups of atoms and the interactions between their electrons.
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amysor | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Atoms are what make up matter. The smallest amount of matter you can break it up is an atom. A microscopic particle filled with neutrons, electrons, and protons.

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