We've got a homework and I know this question may seem so primitive, but I have already read whole textbook and I've been looking also on the Internet, but I still cannot find the right answer. I'd be grateful if you could help me.

The question is what is the basic structural unit of an atom. I'm considering whether to take into account only proton since "a basic structural unit" of something is usually only one thing and also atom of hydrogen consists only of a single electron and proton. But on the other hand, neutrons make up quite a considerable part of weigh of other atoms and are a part of the nucleus.

The answer options are the following: a) atom b) proton c) neutron d) electron e) positronium


closed as unclear what you're asking by airhuff, Gaurang Tandon, M.A.R., Mithoron, aventurin Mar 23 '18 at 17:54

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    $\begingroup$ It's rather structural unit of element in this question of yours? Otherwise there wouldn't be option "atom" which is correct for such question. $\endgroup$ – Mithoron Mar 12 '18 at 21:40
  • $\begingroup$ No, it's not element. They are asking about atom. It is a worksheet with some options that are wittingly incorrect. $\endgroup$ – Diana51 Mar 12 '18 at 21:49
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    $\begingroup$ sigh Well then I guess b) c) and d) would be kinda OK but calling them "basic structural units" isn't best wording. $\endgroup$ – Mithoron Mar 12 '18 at 21:59
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    $\begingroup$ If the answer is single choice, and you understand the atom's structure, then just skip about the question. It is indeed poorly worded. $\endgroup$ – Gaurang Tandon Mar 13 '18 at 2:44
  • $\begingroup$ I quote Gaurang Tandon. As it is the question is garbage. It happens. $\endgroup$ – Alchimista Mar 13 '18 at 17:11

An atom, I'd say, consists of a central nucleus with orbiting electrons.

Take away those neutrons from the nucleus, and you have just protons. A proton is a part of an atom, but it doesn't have to be the basic 'structural unit' of the whole thing - there are two other things that can contribute.

One thing I don't understand are the possible answers. 'Atom' is the basic structural unit of the atom? They sound like poor answers. If you can choose more than one, choose 'proton', 'neutron' and 'electron'. I'd say that's the textbook composition of the atom (although the hydrogen atom has no neutrons...)

  • $\begingroup$ It is a worksheet with some answers that are illogical or trying to confuse students, but that wasn't the thing I was worried about :) I would tell the same as you, that the atom consists of these three parts and due to it I can't decide which of these should be considered as a basic one. Anyway, thank you for your answer :) $\endgroup$ – Diana51 Mar 12 '18 at 21:44
  • $\begingroup$ The guy was confused and asked which options he should choose from a poorly worded question... I gave my answer and the guy agreed with what I said... How this doesn't provide an answer is strange. $\endgroup$ – user60221 Mar 13 '18 at 16:10

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