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Lecture Two - The Basic Matters of Matter.docx

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Western University
Earth Sciences
Earth Sciences 1081A/B

The Basic Matters of Matter Why does the word Mineral mean to you? Partly because people do not learn about minerals early in their education, few truly appreciate their significance (a real pity). Also, minerals and the products derived from them are so imbedded in our lives, we scarcely think about them on a regular basis! Minerals are the building blocks of rocks - the very foundations of planet we live on! Minerals also…  Provide the ultimate raw materials for much of the “stuff” we use on a daily basis (if it can’t be grown, it’s gotta be mined).  Are the basis of our economy (especially true for Canada)  Are the basis of life (many elements essential to living things ultimately come from minerals)  They dictate the chemistry of the oceans  They interact with the atmosphere (affecting climate and are relevant to pollution issues) What exactly is a Mineral? A mineral is a substance that: 1. Is a solid 2. Is non-living (inorganic) 3. Has a definite chemical composition 4. Is naturally occurring 5. Has a crystalline internal structure, an ordered internal structure Minerals are made of ELEMENTS What is an Element?  A chemical element is a pure chemical substance that cannot be broken down to other substances by normal chemical means.  Elements familiar to most people include hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur, iron, zinc, lead, etc, etc.  The smallest particle of matter that retains the characteristics of an element is an atom  On the level of atoms, we can think of an element as being a specific type of atom  CALCIUM IS AN ELEMENT NOT A MINERAL Atoms  Atom are verrrrrry small particles (< 0.00000001 cm in diameter)  An individual atom has a nucleus made of protons and neutrons.  Zipping around the nucleus at high speed are electrons, that form cloud-like shells (each defining an energy level).  Nearly all of an atom’s mass is in its nucleus (for practical purposes, we will consider electrons as weighing nothing – not strictly true, but makes things simpler). Characteristics of subatomic particles within an atom Mass (in atomic units) Charge Proton (blue) 1 + 1 Neutron (orange) 1 0 Electron (grey) 0 - 1 How are elements depicted in the Periodic Table of Elements? One atom of any given element has a certain number of protons (this is called the atomic number). For example, carbon always has six protons. Atomic number (# protons) 6 C Symbol of element 12.011 Carbon Atomic weight (total weight of 1 atom) (# protons, neutrons and electrons) Name of element The atomic weight (the weight of all protons plus neutrons within this atom) is roughly 12 So.. the number of neutrons is: 12 - 6 = 6 (the tiny remaining amount represents the weight of the electrons). Because common carbon has six protons, it must have six electrons to balance
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