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Do atoms reproduce?
- Tremont Grade School
In the sense that living organisms reproduce, no, atoms do not reproduce.
Some atoms are radioactive and decay into other atoms. Some emit
"alpha" particles when they decay. An alpha particle is two protons and
two neutrons stuck together. An alpha particle is the same as a helium
nucleus. For example, Radon (a naturally ocurring gas, produced in the
deacay of Thorium which is found in rocks) decays by emitting an alpha
particle to produce a Polonium atom, which decays itself by emitting an
alpha particle. Each of these alpha particles makes a helium atom.
But is this "reproduction"? Not at all! The helium atoms do not
"grow up" to be like the atoms they came from -- they just stay helium
(republished on 07/21/06)
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