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On Oct. 23, between 6:02 a.m. and 6:02 p.m., chemists celebrate Mole Day. Mole Day is not a day to celebrate those furry little creatures that live in the ground. Rather, it is a day to celebrate a very important idea in the sub-microscopic world.
In chemistry, the mole is a unit used to talk about atoms. It is similar to other units we use everyday. For example, you might walk into the local doughnut shop and order a dozen doughnuts. In doing so, you know that you will get 12 of these snacks and the clerk knows to give you 12. The dozen unit is simply for convenience in discussing a quantity.
Idea - Quantities - Atoms - Dozens - Atoms
We apply the same idea to discuss quantities of atoms. Why do we not simply talk about dozens of atoms? The reason is because atoms are so small that it doesn't make sense to do so. Imagine a single grain of table salt. That tiny crystal contains over 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 (one quintillion) atoms. Rather than discussing such a large number of atoms, we can talk more conveniently through the mole unit. A mole of something contains 602,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 or 6.02 x 10²³ of that thing.
So rather than talking about over 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms in the grain of salt, we can express the quantity as around 0.000002 moles of atoms, which is much more convenient.
Number - Avogadro - Number - Amedeo - Avogadro
The number 6.02 x 10²³ is also called Avogadro's number. Amedeo Avogadro was an Italian physicist. In 1811, he proposed that equal volumes of any gas at the same temperature and pressure contain the same number of atoms (or molecules). The number is named after him to honor his work. Because Oct. 23 is abbreviated as 10/23, chemists use this date to celebrate Mole Day.
How much space does a mole occupy?
Now just how many is 6.02 x 10²³? How...
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