My textbook says the following:

For an electrically neutral or complete atom, the atomic number also equals the number of electrons. This atomic number ranges in integral units from 1 for hydrogen to 92 for uranium, the highest of the naturally occurring elements.

I'm wondering what is meant by "integral units" in this context?

I would greatly appreciate it if people could please clarify this.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It means the said number can be 1, or 10, or 25, but never 1.5. $\endgroup$ May 2, 2019 at 20:45
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ No, it should be just integers. "Integral number" looks like literal translation from another language. $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    May 2, 2019 at 21:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If the author has used "integral units of charge" it would have been much better. Definition 1b(1) at Merriam-Webster. $\endgroup$
    – MaxW
    May 2, 2019 at 22:57
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @ThePointer Integral can be used to mean "of or relating to integers". An example of this usage in mathematics is the concept of an integral domain $\endgroup$
    – Tyberius
    May 3, 2019 at 0:21
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @ThePointer "discrete" is not the same thing as "integers"; 1, 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 ... is discrete. I also second what Tyberius has said. $\endgroup$ May 3, 2019 at 14:33

1 Answer 1


This is only a way of saying that the atomic number will never be a decimal number like 1.5 or 16.8

One consequence is that if you carry out an experiment which gives you a decimal number as an atomic number, then you must have a mixture or something is wrong.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.