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What is the atomic theory?

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Quick Answer

The atomic theory is that all matter is made up of tiny units or particles called atoms. This theory describes the characteristics, structure and behavior of atoms as well as the components that make up atoms. Furthermore, the theory states that all elements are made up of identical atoms.

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What is the atomic theory?
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Full Answer

The atomic theory is a theory in the study of chemistry that states atoms are the building blocks of matter. Atoms contain protons, neutrons and electrons. Protons, which have a positive charge, and neutrons are found in the nucleus of the atom. Electrons, which have a negative charge, orbit the nucleus.

According to the atomic theory, all elements contain atoms. The difference is the number of protons, electrons and neutrons in that atom. For instance, hydrogen contains one proton and one electron but no neutrons. Oxygen, on the other hand contains eight protons, electrons and neutrons. The difference in protons, electrons and neutrons determines the stability and the other properties of any particular element. These elements are grouped according to their atomic masses, which depend on the number of protons and neutrons in each of the atoms. Because oxygen has more protons and neutrons than hydrogen, it has a higher atomic mass.

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