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Lecture

Biogeochemical Cycles - Part 1.docx

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Department
Natural Science
Course
NATS 1840
Professor
Carl Wolfe
Semester
Fall

Description
Biogeochemical Cycles The Cycling of Matter and Energy in the Environment Living organisms consume nutrients and energy to thrive - In particular, six “macronutrients” are constantly recycled – they are carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur. - Biogeochemical cycles are physical and chemical processes which ensure the exchange of matter and energy between the biotic and abiotic parts of the ecosphere - To understand these cycles, we must understand the nature of matter and energy Biogeochemical Cycles Part 1 Matter Matter, Elements and Atoms: Matter: Anything that takes up space and has mass. o Composed of atoms of elements which interact chemically with one another to form more complicated molecules of compounds. Elements: The basic chemical constituents of matter, ie. The stuff from which all things are made o Each element has distinct physical properties o Elements cannot be further broken down by chemical means. Atom: The basic physical unit of an element, ie. The smallest piece of matter that exhibits the properties of that element; o The physical characteristics of an atom determine the properties of the corresponding element. - Atoms themselves are composed of tiny sub atomic particles o Electrons o Protons The basic constituents of all atoms o Neutrons Structure of the atom: A small, dense nucleus of protons and neutrons, surrounded by a large, diffuse cloud of electron. Size: about 10^-10 m. Each sub atomic particle carries a specific electric charge. The electromagnetic force acts between charged particles, exerting a force which depends on the charges involved. Two positively charged (+,-) particles will attract one another Particles that are electrically neutral (carry no charge) do not experience this force. Protons: + (positive charge) Neutrons 0 (neutral charge) Electrons: - (negative charge) Identity of Atoms: What gives an atom its particular chemical properties 9 and thus determines which element it correspond
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