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I believe the Proton Number (being the number of protons in the centre/nucleus of the atom) is the most important number in an atom.

Oxygen for example has 8 protons and 8 neutrons. if it had more/less neutrons it would still be oxygen (it would be an ISOTOPE of oxygen) but if it had more/less protons, it would be a differnet element entirely.

Ordinarily, the number of protons in an atom matches the number of electrons spinning around the outside so as to keep it neutral. (a proton has a positive charge and a neutron has a negative charge)

the relative Atomic Mass of an element is the proton number + the neutron number as electrons weigh so little their mass is not worth taking into account.

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โˆ™ 2011-09-19 16:48:19
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Q: What important number in an atom distinguishes that atom from every other type of atom?
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