By US Environmental Protection Agency

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Instead, the chemist’s work is often concerned with measurements of mass for the smallest types of matter: molecules, atoms, and other elementary particles. 99 • 10–23 g. In other words, a gram is about 50,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times larger than a carbon atom—hardly a usable comparison. Weight differs as a response to the gravitational pull of the planet, moon, or other body on which it is measured. Hence a person weighs less on the Moon, because the Moon possesses less mass than Earth, and, thus, exerts less gravitational force.

As Feynman went on to note, atoms are so tiny that if an apple were magnified to the size of Earth, the atoms in it would each be about the size of a regular apple. Clearly, atoms and other atomic particles are far too small to be glimpsed even by the most highly powered optical microscope. Yet physicists and other scientists are able to study the behavior of atoms, and by doing so, they are able to form a picture of what occurs at the atomic level. In his highly readable Six Easy Pieces—a work that includes considerable discussion of chemistry as well as physics—the great American physicist Richard Feynman (1918-1988) asked, “If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence passed on to the next generations of creatures, An atom is the fundamental particle in a chemical element.

Boiling When a liquid experiences an increase in temperature, its particles take on energy and begin to move faster and faster.

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