What is Atomic ?

This page includes further information continuing from the page What is an Atom ?

In general English usage there are many words and phrases that include the word 'atom', 'atomic' or their derivatives. Not all of them concern atoms, matter, physics or chemistry. Here are some examples together with short definitions:

  • atomic
    - of or relating to atoms or to the size of atoms, e.g. to study something on an atomic scale.
  • atomic age
    - or, alternatively atomic era, a phrase usually used to refer to the period of history following the detonation of the first nuclear bomb Trinity on July 16, 1945. (Nuclear science existed before this but this event was the first large-scale and well-known use of nuclear technology.)
  • atomic clock
    - a clock that uses an electronic transition frequency in the microwave optical, or ultraviolet region of the electromagnetic spectrum of atoms as a frequency standard for timekeeping.
  • atomic cannon
    - also known as M64 atomic cannon and sometimes called the atomic Annie an item of towed military artillery developed and built by the United States (USA) in the early 1950s.
  • atomic dog
    - song by George Clinton from his 1982 album "Computer Games". Not about atoms or chemistry. song by George Clinton from his 1982 album "Computer Games". Not about atoms or chemistry.
  • atomic explosion
    - huge and rapid release of energy from an intentionally high-speed nuclear reaction. The initial "driving" nuclear reaction may be nuclear fission, nuclear fusion or a multistage cascading combination of both.
  • atomic model
    - or, equivalently ... atom model or model of an atom, terms used to refer to the simplified version of the structure of atom(s) taught in schools and used to explain much of conventional chemistry. The term "atomic model" does not necessarily mean a physical model that one could pick up and pass to someone else, but rather that way of describing the structure of an atom - which may be represented by a drawing, a physical 3D model, or even just described in words. Note that sometimes textboos and websites refer to the descriptions ("models") of the atom proposed by specific scientists by the name of the scientist, e.g. "Bohr model", "Rutherford model", "Dalton model".
  • atomic nucleus
    - the nucleus of an atom, which is a very small but extremely dense area at approximately the centre of the volume of the atom. The nucleus of an atom contains all the protons and neutrons in the atom and so accounts for most of the mass of the atom.
  • atomic number
    - the number of protons contained in (the nucleus of) an atom - more about atomic number.
  • atomic radius
    - half the distance between the nuclei of two identical atoms (so, ideally atoms of the same element) that are covalently bonded.
    - a term used in physical chemistry, also know as a "covalent radius".
  • atomic structure
    - the arrangement of the parts of an atom - consisting of a huge positively charged and approx. central nucleus surrounded by electrons whose distribution and/or positions in space may be described in terms of "clouds", "levels" or "orbits" according to the model and mathematics used.
  • atomic timeline
    - a description, usually in the form of a list or diagram, of the scientific research, discoveries and publications (e.g. of research papers or books) through which understanding of atomic theory was developed. The important thing about a "timeline" is that information is organised and presented chronologically (meaning in date order), rather than for example according to location or alphabetical order of people's names.
  • atomic theory
    - a theory of matter, stating that matter is composed of discrete units called atoms, as opposed to the previous (now proved incorrect) assumption that matter could be divided into any arbitrarily small quantity.
  • atomic twister
    - film/drama in which a nuclear power plant near a small town is hit by a tornado, damaging the plant's cooling system and leading to potentially catastrophy. Not about atoms or chemistry.
  • atomic weather stations
    - commercial products, i.e. available for sale. Details vary but generally "atomic weather stations" are compact "atomic clocks" that have additional features including weather information. Many are small and simple enough for home or small business use.
  • atomic weight
    - the average mass of an atom of an element relative to the mass of carbon 12, which is assigned 12 atomic mass units (the atomic weight of an element having more than one principal isotope is calculated both from the atomic masses of the isotopes and from the relative abundance of each isotope in nature).
    - the former name for "relative atomic mass".
  • atomiser
    - a dispenser, often made of metal, glass or plastic and small enough to fit into a small bag, purse or pocket, that turns a liquid (e.g. perfume) into a fine spray.
  • atomology
    - the theory of atoms
  • sub-atomic
    - either within an atom e.g. protons are "sub-atomic particles", or referring to a size or scale smaller than most atoms.

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