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What is the difference between diatomic molecules and elements?

Also, If oxygen is element of a single atom, then what makes it a diatomic element? But, then I read that a single oxygen atom can bind with another element to form a compound, but it's a diatomic element with two atoms.

Please can someone enlighten some clarity on this subject. Also, it would help to see some examples to see the differences and context of how these diatomic molecules and elements interact.

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  • $\begingroup$ How these elements interact? That's a little bit too broad. Like one's going to write more than thousands of books to cover it. Oxygen molecule is diatomic. That's all, and that means the most stable form of O in nature is $\ce{O2}$. $\endgroup$ – M.A.R. Apr 2 '15 at 17:52
  • $\begingroup$ Anyways, welcome to chemistry.SE! $\endgroup$ – M.A.R. Apr 2 '15 at 17:52
  • $\begingroup$ But, why is a single oxygen atom not an element, or is it? So, are you saying that a single oxygen atom will easily bind with another atom of a different element to become stable? And that two oxygen atoms are stable and not easily bind with other atoms of different elements? -LAG $\endgroup$ – LAG Apr 2 '15 at 18:04
  • $\begingroup$ $\ce{O2}$ is thermodynamically way more stable than a single O atom. A single O is considered a radical. It's very reactive and will react as soon as it's "allowed" to. :) $\endgroup$ – M.A.R. Apr 2 '15 at 18:09
  • $\begingroup$ So, all diatomic elements have the same characteristics as you described for oxygen. I am new to chemistry, and I don't want to assume. So, that's why all of the questions and restatements. Thanks. $\endgroup$ – LAG Apr 2 '15 at 18:15

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