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Amateur question about rearranging atoms

  1. Oct 17, 2011 #1

    I've been thinking about atoms alot lately, and I've tried to search on internet but did not find any comforting answers yet.

    So (yes I'm an amateur) there is like 100+ known elements that's possible to combine together to form another compound. My question here is: Would it be theoretical possible to "tear" down molecyls and then build it up to form another element?

    Take garbage/vaste for example. Tear down the vaste and then build up new materials.

    Maby this goes under another topic. But I would be greatful for any answers.

    Thank you

    Best regards
    Mr. Hansen
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 17, 2011 #2
    The whole field of chemistry is the study of tearing apart molecules and rearranging the molecules to get new materials. Any "synthetic material" such as plastic is made in the lab by rearranging atoms in a controlled way. Any chemistry experiment you could do, such as mixing baking soda and vinegar, is a creation of new material by rearranging atoms.

    The field of nuclear physics is the study of tearing apart individual atoms to make new elements. Man-made nuclear transformations are expensive and dangerous, and so any take place in nuclear power plants, nuclear bombs, etc.

    Molecularly tearing down household garbage waste and building a new material is what happens in the recycling industry. The raw materials are extracted from the trash and then sold to be turned into other materials.
  4. Oct 17, 2011 #3


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    I think you have a mix up of terms.

    An Element: A chemical element is a pure chemical substance consisting of one type of atom distinguished by its atomic number, which is the number of protons in its nucleus.

    Atom: The atom is a basic unit of matter that consists of a dense central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons. The atomic nucleus contains a mix of positively charged protons and electrically neutral neutrons (except in the case of hydrogen-1, which is the only stable nuclide with no neutrons).

    A molecule is an electrically neutral group of any two or more atoms bonded together. Arranging atoms to form different chemical substances, aka molecules, is relatively easy and is done every day by even the most basic of life forms. Your car engine takes oxygen from the air and carbon from the fuel and combines them together to form carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide, releasing energy in the reaction that is used to power the engine.

    Attempting to take one element and make it into another one is known as transmutation and is MUCH more difficult. The only place this occurs in nature is in the heart of stars with nuclear fusion and in very heavy or unstable atoms such as Uranium or Radium in the case of nuclear fission.

    Links to read up on:
  5. Oct 17, 2011 #4
    Thank you guys for clearing that up for me. I guess I was woundering since "everything" eventually is build up from atoms. I though atoms was "building-blocks" itself. Been too
    long since I went to school and had chemestry. Forgot about neutrons and electrons.

    Have a great day and thanks again.

    Mr. Hansen
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