Great Answers to
Questions About Everything


Someone gave me definition of atomic number as follows:

The number of electron or proton present in a neutral atom is called atomic number. It is represented by Z.

What does neutral mean here? Why doesn't he just say "..present in an atom is called..."?

{ asked by Santosh Kumar }


Electrons and protons are charged particles. The electrons have negative change, while protons have positive change. A neutral atom is an atom where the changes of the electrons and the protons balance. Luckily, one electron has the same charge (with opposite sign) as a proton.

Example: Carbon has 6 protons. The neutral Carbon atom has 6 electrons. The atomic number is 6 since there are 6 protons.

{ answered by geisshirt }