View Full Version : Protons

2003-Sep-19, 01:24 AM
OK, I have a big question here, one that I've never really understood. Take an atom for instance, with one proton. You have the element hydrogen. Add a proton, you have the element helium. Why does adding something so tiny chance the element? There's a big difference between hydrogen and helium. Or helium and gold ect. Can anyone explain this?

Evil Steve
2003-Sep-19, 09:48 AM

Well at least I can't. But thats why science is so much fun. I will though add to your questions and ask how we can be so different from Chimps who share 98(ish) percent of our DNA let alone cabbages with who we share 47 percent (it shows up in councils all round the world ;) ).

Why does adding something so tiny chance the element?

One proton is a big change to atom even an electron changes things.

Evil Steve (Where'd all the scientists go?)

2003-Sep-19, 01:55 PM
Remember adding one proton to hydrogen doubles the nucleas' size and charge. Tthe number of protons obviously also affects the number of electrons in a neutrally charged atom. It's the electrons that determine the atom's chemical properties, for instance metals tend to lose their electrons easily where as non-metals generally gain electrons to form negative ions.

I recommend that you read a high school chemistry text book.


2003-Sep-20, 01:31 AM
Hmm.... a proton is still really really small, not even a nanometer (one billionth of a meter) in size! How adding say 30 of them can change your element from gas to a metal is beyond me. This year I'm only taking LIfe and Earth Science but next year I'll be taking Chemistry as sophmore. Guess I have to wait.

2003-Sep-20, 02:45 AM
It's all relative deep eye. Adding 1 proton to a Hydrogen nucleus doubles its size and electomagnetic charge. You're right, doing this to one atom is pretty insignificant, but a small jar of hydrogen gas would contain many millions of atoms.

Don't wait till next year, go and read now! There are plenty of interesting books on the subject. You seem to have plenty of time of your hands!

2003-Sep-21, 05:35 PM
Plenty, na, just type and read fast when it counts. I'll talk to my Life Scienec teacher and see if he can tell me who to go to so I can check out a Chemistry book.

2003-Sep-26, 06:32 PM
Its part of the old question of why chemistry isn't physics. Looking at it from the point of physics, it seems quite a small change from hydrogen to helium. What happens, though is that going from one positive to two positives in the nuclueaus means that you also go from one electron to two electrons.

Electrons have this funny thing that they only inhabit certian very distinct orbits. The orbits are are better thought of as probabalistic clouds, but there are a series of very distinct such orbits that they can inhabit. Furthermore, different orbits alow for different numbers of electrons to share the same orbit.

The population of these electron orbits of atoms is what makes up for most of the "puny" chemical nature of atoms. This may seem like a minor point in physics, but chemistry is entirely devoted to it. The population of these electron orbits define how matter interacts with other matter in the medium energy state between absolute zero on one hand and what happens in nuclear reactions and particle accelerators on the other. It also happens to be the the energy range where we live. It is why, where we live, rocks are hard, people are soft, water is wet, fire is hot, roses are red, people need food, and why chocholate tastes good. Minor stuff like that. All because of populated electron orbits (and the orbits that are allowed are set by the number of positives in the nucleus)

Physists will say that it is all only a small sideline of physics. Chemists will say it makes up 99.999% of our daily life.

As they say "Better living through chemistry"