Vocabulary for Describing Quantum Mechanics and Nuclear Physics

  • Atom – The smallest unit of matter that retains the chemical properties of an element
  • Electron – A negatively charged particle that orbits the nucleus of an atom
  • Proton – A positively charged particle found in the nucleus of an atom
  • Neutron – An electrically neutral particle found in the nucleus of an atom
  • Nucleus – The central part of an atom, containing protons and neutrons
  • Quantum Mechanics – A branch of physics that describes the behavior of matter and energy at the smallest scales
  • Nuclear Physics – The study of the structure and behavior of atomic nuclei and the interactions between subatomic particles
  • Wave-Particle Duality – The concept that particles can display both wave-like and particle-like properties
  • Uncertainty Principle – The principle that it is impossible to determine both the position and velocity of a particle with absolute certainty
  • Spin – A property of subatomic particles that gives them a type of intrinsic angular momentum
  • Isotope – A variation of an element that has the same number of protons but a different number of neutrons
  • Radioactivity – The emission of particles or energy from the nucleus of an atom, often resulting in the decay of the atom into a different element.
  • Fusion – The process of combining two or more atomic nuclei to form a heavier nucleus
  • Fission – The process of splitting a heavy nucleus into two or more lighter nuclei.

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