Atoms

Which type of charge does a neutron have?

And the answer is: they don't have a charge.  

Image credit: SVG by Indolences.

Atoms are made of tiny particles called protons, neutrons, and electrons. Protons are particles that have a positive charge, and electrons have a negative charge. Meanwhile, neutrons are uncharged and, along with protons, they're found within the nucleus of atoms.

Atoms are the fundamental building blocks of chemistry. Matter itself is made up of a collection of different types of atoms. To date, there are 118 different types of atoms which we call elements, and can be found on the periodic table.

You might be wondering: how do scientists know that atoms exist, if they can't be seen by the naked eye? Interestingly, the first proposal of atoms' existence dates back to around 400 BCE, when the great thinker Democritus began to refute the withstanding idea of the time period. Until Democritus began to theorize, the widely accepted notion proposed that any article of matter (say, an apple) could be reduced in size for infinity. Instead, Democritus insisted that at some point, you would reach articles so small that they could not be divided any further. He named those particles "atomos," meaning "uncuttable."

Unfortunately, Democritus did not have evidence to back up his claims, so his ideas were quickly dismissed. It wasn't until the 1700s that this idea was truly put to the test. Two French scientists built off the idea of extraction (i.e., distilling salt from salt water through heat) to further the idea of breaking down already-pure substances to their most base elements. For example, water can be boiled into steam and remain water, but it can also be split into two pure gasses: hydrogen and oxygen. The pair of scientists established that, because hydrogen and oxygen could not be further reduced, they must be elements – the primary constituents of matter that cannot be created or broken down.

Learn more about the building blocks of life below.


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