What Are Atoms Made Of?

stated clearly presents what are atoms

made of as we learned in the last

animation the word atom means uncuttable

and when John Dalton first discovered

evidence that atoms exist

he gave them that name because he

genuinely thought that they were

uncuttable he thought they were

fundamental particles the smallest bits

of matter that exist well it turns out

that he was wrong

atoms can be split apart they are made

of subatomic particles most importantly

electrons protons and neutrons protons

and neutrons appear to be made a smaller

particle still and truth be told we

don't know for sure if there really is

an end to smallness reality might just

keep going on forever and ever

the further you zoom in so there is

something strange to think about this

image was made of data collected from an

actual scan of a single nitrogen atom

fixed to a metal surface what we're

actually seeing here is the outside of

what is called the electron cloud the

outer edges of the atom the colors here

are artificial but this is the real

shape of a nitrogen atom here to the

right we see a simplified model of the

same nitrogen atom this type of model is

called the Bohr model named after the

physicist Niels Bohr other models do

exist which are more accurate but when

first being introduced to chemistry the

Bohr model is the easiest to make sense

of and so it's what we will be using

here in the center of a nitrogen atom we

have the nucleus looking over at the

scan you might think that the red

section is the nucleus that's actually

not the case as mentioned the colors

here are artificial the red pixels are

just the part of the electron cloud

that's closest to us the nucleus is

hiding underneath the electrons it is

the core of the atom and in our model

the nucleus has been dramatically

enlarged so that we can actually see it

if the model were actually drawn more to

scale the entire nucleus would be

smaller than

single pixel on your screen in fact if

we were to enlarge the atom to the size

of a professional soccer field

well actually the size of 10

professional soccer fields the nucleus

would be about the size of a house

spider the nucleus consists of one or

more protons and in most atoms a

collection of neutrons protons and

neutrons are what give the atom most of

its weight or its mass technically for

example a Gold atom has 79 protons and

typically 118 neutrons this is far

heavier than a nitrogen atom which only

has 7 protons and usually seven neutrons

the number of neutrons and a particular

type of atom might vary between

individuals for example while most

nitrogen atoms have 7 neutrons some have

just 6 while others have 8 changing the

number of neutrons inside of an atom

won't really do much to change its

chemical properties instead it will

often just make the atom slightly

heavier slightly lighter or sometimes it

will make the atom unstable on the other

hand if you were to add or subtract just

a single proton from nitrogen assuming

you had the technology to do so you

would completely change its chemical

properties so much in fact that we would

no longer call it nitrogen adding just a

single proton to a nitrogen atom would

transform it into an oxygen atom taking

a proton away from nitrogen would

transform it into carbon in other words

the number of protons an atom contains

determines the type of atom it is when

you look at the periodic table you find

that each element has a number hydrogen

is number one nitrogen is number seven

Gold is number 79 this number tells you

how many protons a single atom of that

element contains protons are positively

charged neutrons are neutral obviously

they don't actually have little faces on

them but it helps to remember electrons

on the other hand are negatively charged

we often depict them as little particles

in orbit around the nucleus similar to


orbiting a Sun but this is not

technically accurate scientists tell us

that electrons can be best described as

wave functions cloud like structures

that sort of resemble the energy force

fields you might find in a

science-fiction movie that said for our

purposes today the simplified model

actually works best in general the

number of electrons and atom contains is

equal to the number of protons and its

nucleus this is because each positively

charged proton attracts one negatively

charged electron through chemical

reactions however an electron can

sometimes be stripped away from an atom

or an extra electron can sometimes be

added in these cases we call the

modified atom an ion okay that was a lot

of information thrown at you in a very

short amount of time so let's just recap

here and summarize the most important

bits what exactly our atoms made of in

the center of an atom we find one or

more protons and in most cases we also

find neutrons protons are positively

charged neutrons are neutral the number

of protons and atom contains determine

the type of atom it is hydrogen has one

proton nitrogen has seven Gold has 79

and so on orbiting about the nucleus we

find negatively charged electrons in

general the number of electrons and atom

contains is equal to the number of

protons and its nucleus this is because

each positively charged proton attracts

one negatively charged electron I am

John Perry and that was a basic overview

of the anatomy of an atom stated clearly

this animation series was made possible

with a grant from the National Science

Foundation and the Casal Research Center

at the University of California Irvine

Castle researchers are the ones that

took that really cool image of nitrogen

that I showed you and a bunch of other

images I'll show you in future videos

aside from taking pictures of atoms and

molecules the researchers at Castle also

produced a free video game called bond


which teaches players how atoms and

subatomic particles interact with one

another though it is a fairly simple

game I have found it extremely helpful

when trying to make sense of the strange

properties that atoms and subatomic

particles possess I highly recommend

checking it out a link to the game is

displayed here on screen and can also be

found in the video description this

video was of course also funded by good

people like you who support my work on

patreon.com forward slash stated clearly

thank you folks

you are amazing so long for now

everybody stay curious

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