atom

Atomic Weight and Number

The atomic number of an atom is simply the number of protons in its nucleus. The atomic weight of an atom is given in most cases by the mass number of the atom, equal to the total number of protons and neutrons combined. An atom may be conveniently symbolized by its chemical symbol with the atomic number and mass number written as subscript and superscript, respectively. For example, the symbol for uranium is U (atomic number 92); the isotopes of uranium with atomic weights 235 and 238 are indicated by 23592Uart/U-235.gif and 23892Uart/U-238.gif.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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