Wikijunior:The Elements/Overview


Atoms Around UsEdit

Everything in the Universe is made of matter. All matter is made of tiny particles called atoms. Atoms are so incredibly tiny that trillions of them could fit into the period at the end of this sentence.

If you want to have a language, you will need an alphabet. Chemistry is no different. If you want to build molecules, you will need elements. Each element is a little bit different from the rest. Those elements are the alphabet to the language of molecules.

Let's stretch the idea a bit. If you read a book, you will read a language. Letters make up that language. But you need ink to create the letters on the page, and for each letter, it is the same type of ink.

Elements are like those letters — and atoms are like the ink they're written in. Each element is a particular kind of atom (a particular shape for the ink), and each atom is always an element (the ink is always in the shape of a letter).

While the atoms may have different weights and organization, they are all built in the same way. Electrons, protons, and neutrons make the universe go.

If you want to do a little more thinking, start with particles of matter. Matter, the stuff around us, is used to create atoms. Atoms are used to create the elements. Elements are used to create molecules. It just goes on. Everything you see is built using something else.

You could start really small...

-Particles of matter
-Cell organelles
-Planetary Systems with Stars
-Galaxy Clusters
-The Universe

... And finish really big.

All of that is possible because of atoms.