chemistry of life

the periodic table

In 1869, a Russian scientist named Dmitri Mendeleev created the periodic table, which is a way of organizing elements according to their unique characteristics, like atomic number, density, boiling point, and other values ( Figure 1.2). Each element is represented by a one or two letter symbol. For example, H stands for hydrogen, and Au stands for gold. The vertical columns in the periodic table are known as groups, and elements in groups tend to have very similar properties. The table is also divided into rows, known as periods.

chemical reactions

A molecule is any combination of two or more atoms. The oxygen in the air we breathe is two oxygen atoms connected by a chemical bond to form O2 , or molecular oxygen. A carbon dioxide molecule is a combination of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms, CO2 . Because carbon dioxide includes two different elements, it is a compound as well as a molecule. A compound is any combination of two or more different elements. A compound has different properties from the elements that it contains. Elements and combinations of elements (compounds) make up all the many types of matter in the Universe. A chemical reaction is a process that breaks or forms the bonds between atoms of molecules and compounds. For example, two hydrogens and one oxygen bind together to form water, H2 O. The molecules that come together to start a chemical reaction are the reactants. So hydrogen and oxygen are the reactants. The product is the end result of a reaction. In this example, water is the product. Atoms also come together to form compounds much larger than water. It is some of these large compounds that come together to form the basis of the cell. So essentially, your cells are made out of compounds, which are made out of atoms.


chemicals of life

the elements

If you pull a flower petal from a plant and break it in half, and then take that piece and break it in half again, and take the next piece and break it half, and so on, and so on, until you cannot even see the flower anymore, what do you think you will find? We know that the flower petal is made of cells, but what are cells made of? Scientists have broken down matter, or anything that takes up space and has masslike a cellinto the smallest pieces that cannot be broken down anymore. Every physical object, including rocks, animals, flowers, and your body, are all made up of matter. Matter is made up of a mixture of things called elements. Elements are substances that cannot be broken down into simpler substances. There are more than 100 known elements, and 92 occur naturally around us. The others have been made only in the laboratory. Inside of elements, you will find identical atoms. An atom is the simplest and smallest particle of matter that still has chemical properties of the element. Atoms are the building block of all of the elements that make up the matter in your body or any other living or non-living thing. Atoms are so small that only the most powerful microscopes can see them. Atoms themselves are composed of even smaller particles, including positively charged protons, uncharged neu- trons, and negatively charged electrons. Protons and neutrons are located in the center of the atom, or the nucleus, and the electrons move around the nucleus. How many protons an atom has determines what element it is. For example, hydrogen (H) has just one proton, helium (He) always has two protons ( Figure 1.1), while sodium (Na) always has 11. All the atoms of a particular element have the exact same number of protons, and the number of protons is that elements atomic number. An atom usually has the same number of protons and electrons, but sometimes an atom may gain or lose an electron, giving the atom a positive or negative charge. These atoms are known as ions and are depicted with a "+" or "-" sign. Ions, such as H+ , Na+ , K+ , or Cl have significant biological roles. An atom of Helium (He) contains two positively charged protons (red), two uncharged neutrons (blue), and two negatively charged electrons (yellow).


instructional diagrams

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the difference between a hydrogen atom and a helium atom is one proton.

-->  a. true

b. false

matter is anything that takes up space and has mass.

-->  a. true

b. false

which of the following is a molecule and a compound?

a) o2

b) h2o

-->  c) h2

d) n2

who developed the periodic table?

a) gregor mendel

-->  b) dmitri mendel

c) charles darwin

d) dmitri mendeleev

the helium atom has 2 protons, 2 electrons and 2 neutrons. what is its atomic number?

-->  a) 2

b) 4

c) 6

d) 8

lithium (li) has similar properties to what other element?

a) he

-->  b) na

c) c

d) o

which of the following is an element?

-->  a) o

b) o2

c) h2o

d) co2

diagram questions

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