What Is the Mass & Charge of Protons?

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A proton has one positive electronic charge and an immeasurable mass of one atomic mass unit. Find out how many protons would be required in order to get a measurable mass with information from a math and science teacher in this free video on atoms.

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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Steve Jones, I'm going to tell you about the mass and charge of protons. Well there's two ways of looking at this. First of all let's check on what a proton is. If this is an atom, here we have our atom, and in our atom we have three basic particles, we know that there are lots and lots of other particles, but within our atoms we can consider three basic ones, the proton, the neutron and the electron, forget the electron, that's outside, very loosely attached to the atom. In the center in the nucleus which is very small there's a proton and a neutron, or there are protons and neutrons, depending on which particular material we're talking about. The proton has a positive charge. So first of all it has a positive charge. It also has a mass, and it has a mass of one. But what one what? Well to actually tell you what mass it has is a mathematical problem. Because if I actually write down the mass you wouldn't believe me anyway. But if I actually suggest the number of protons that you would need to make a measurable mass I will have a lot of work on hand, because I will have to keep going in this way until I get a number, which is about the right number for the mass. So if I said something like that number of protons I would need, that's a million, that's a million, million, that's a million, million, million and that's a million, million, million, million, so 10 million, million, million, million protons, and I get a mass which I can just weigh. So in a bag of sugar there are this number of protons. The proton is tiny, the mass also is tiny, so is the charge, also a charge of one, one what? Well a very small charge, because there is this number of protons and the charge is very small. So overall we say that the proton has a charge of one, one electronic charge, the proton also has a mass, the mass of one atomic mass unit. But that is a very small unit indeed. Remember when you're measuring small things, you need very, very small rulers.


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