MICHAEL GILBERT / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MICHAEL GILBERT / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Diagram of the structure of the atom. An atom consists of one or more electrons that whirl about the tiny, central nucleus. The nucleus consists of protons & neutrons. The number of electrically positive protons balance the number of electrically negative electrons to make the atom electrically neutral overall. The atom shown is beryllium, which has 4 electrons, 4 protons, & 5 neutrons. The diagram is based on the traditional way of portraying the orbits of the electrons. In reality, however, the electron orbits are more eccentric, & they are much further out from the nucleus.
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