How to Determine an Atom's Identity

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An atom is one of the smallest known objects. An atom is a building block for different substances. For example, hydrogen and oxygen atoms bind to form water. There are different ways to identify what an atom is. To identify an atom, it is easier to think of the methods as theoretical because looking at each method takes sophisticated instruments.

  • Count the number of protons in the atom's nucleus.

  • Look the number of protons up on the periodic table. The number of protons is the atomic number. The corresponding number is the atom.

  • Mass the atom, alternatively. Each atom has a different mass. The mass equals the number of protons plus the number of neutrons. In order to find a mass, you need to count each of these particles.

  • Look the mass up on the periodic table. The atom with the corresponding mass is the atom you are looking at.

References

  • Photo Credit atom image by Brett Bouwer from Fotolia.com
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