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How many protons are in mg ?

The atomic number of an element is the number of protons in its nucleus. The atomic weight of an element is the number of protons and neutrons in its nucleus. In other words, it’s the mass of an atom measured relative to hydrogen (H) with one proton and no neutrons.

For example, carbon has six protons (Z =6), so its atomic number is 6, but it has eight neutrons (A=8). That makes its mass 14 (6+8). This doesn’t mean that every carbon atom weighs 14 grams; it means that a sample of 12 grams of carbon contains 12⁄ 12 + 8⁄ 12 = 7 1⁄ 2 atoms with a total mass of 14 grams.

This is why elements are often assigned both their elemental symbol and atomic number: they’re different ways of describing the same thing!

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Last modified: August 17, 2022

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