Chemistry: The Mole

The Mole

Depending on your educational background and life experiences, different things may come to mind when the word "mole" is mentioned.

If you've studied the life sciences, you probably think of moles as members of the species Talpa europaea, a small burrowing animal. If you work for the CIA, you probably think a mole is somebody who has infiltrated your ranks to steal state secrets. If you've spent a lot of time outside without wearing sunscreen, a mole is a dark-colored, raised skin blemish that sometimes grows big weird hairs.

All of these definitions are true and work well for various purposes. However, moles are none of these things in a chemistry class. In this section, we'll examine the mysterious mole and find out what it's good for.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Chemistry © 2003 by Ian Guch. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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