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Biogeochemical Cycles - Part 1.docx

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Natural Science
NATS 1840
Carl Wolfe

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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