Matter & Energy


Matter is composed of atoms or groups of atoms called molecules. The arrangement of particles in a material depends on the physical state of the substance. In a solid, particles form a compact structure that resists flow. Particles in a liquid have more energy than those in a solid. They can flow past one another, but they remain close. Particles in a gas have the most energy. They move rapidly and are separated from one another by relatively large distances.

Mass Number

Mass number, often represented by the symbol A, the total number of nucleons (neutrons and protons) in the nucleus of an atom. All atoms of a chemical element have the same atomic number (number of protons in the nucleus) but may have different mass numbers (from having different numbers of neutrons in the nucleus). Atoms of an element with the same mass number make up an isotope of the element. Different isotopes of the same element cannot have the same mass number, but isotopes of different elements often do have the same mass number, e.g., carbon-14 (6 protons and 8 neutrons) and nitrogen-14 (7 protons and 7 neutrons).