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B Vague definition of the word molecule

  1. May 9, 2016 #1
    The word molecule has several definitions, but which one is considered the right one? The biggest question is if a single atom is still a molecule. Some call a helium atom a (monatomic) molecule. But others state that a molecule is a bond between two or more atoms. Some also say a molecule is the smallest part which contains it's chemical characteristics, which means that noble gasses are molecules. An others just say molecules consist of one or more atoms. I think it very important this is clear, so who can help me, are the noble gasses called molecules or just atoms?

    (I know you can't really compare them because they're two on different levels, but still...)
  2. jcsd
  3. May 9, 2016 #2


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    The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry defines a molecule as "An electrically neutral entity consisting of more than one atom." As someone with training in chemistry, I would not call a single atom a molecule. For example, we often make a distinction between oxygen atoms (O) and oxygen molecules (O2).
  4. May 9, 2016 #3
    So the noble gasses are atoms not molecules?
  5. May 9, 2016 #4


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    Yes, I would not consider the noble gasses (Ne, He, Ar, etc.) to be molecules. Some of the noble gasses can form molecules (e.g. XeF4), however.
  6. May 9, 2016 #5
    Alright thank you very much
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