Atoms are the basic units of matter and the defining structure of elements. Atoms are made up of three particles: protons, neutrons and electrons.Protons and neutrons are heavier than electrons and reside in the center of the atom, which is called the nucleus. Electrons are extremely lightweight and exist in a cloud orbiting the nucleus. The electron cloud has a radius 10,000 times greater than the nucleus.Protons and neutrons have approximately the same mass. However, one proton weighs more than 1,800 electrons. Atoms always have an equal number of protons and electrons, and the number of protons and neutrons is usually the same as well. Adding a proton to an atom makes a new element, while adding a neutron makes an isotope, or heavier version, of that atom.

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