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Astro Cat Explains… What’s The World Made Of?


Hello, explorers! You might have noticed on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram that we’re working on a new Astro Cat app! To celebrate, we asked the Professor to share a bit of wisdom that you can pass on to your curious little ones. This week we asked the Professor to answer a common but complicated question: what is everything made of?



Firstly, in short, the whole world is made from atoms. We call them the building blocks of the universe. For a long time, scientists thought that atoms were the smallest possible thing. That’s how they got their name – from the Greek ‘atomos’, meaning indivisible. However, we now know that atoms are made of three smaller particles: protons, neutrons, and electrons which whizz around the edges of the atom. And protons and neutrons are made of quarks! Phew, that’s enough dividing…so how exactly do these tiny atoms make the world work?

Astro Cat Explains the Atom
This week’s handy diagrams can be found in Professor Astro Cat’s Atomic Adventure, by Dr Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman.



In the centre of the atom, the protons and neutrons form a ball we call the nucleus. Depending on how many protons and neutrons there are (and how many electrons are whizzing around them), a particular atom has certain abilities and properties. This makes an atom belong to a particular element. For example, Hydrogen has just 1 proton and 1 electron. It is a gas at room temperature, and very light! On the other hand, Lead has 82 protons and 82 electrons, and 125 neutrons! It’s a heavy metal, and is solid at room temperature.



Atoms don’t like being on their own, and tend to travel around in groups called molecules. In a compound like water (H2O), two Hydrogen atoms and one Oxygen atom share their electrons and bond together to form a molecule. Once larger and more complex molecules form, more and more materials come into existence. When you combine around 7 billion billion billion atoms in different molecules and mixtures…you have a human being!


To learn more about the how everything in the world exists, and all of the incredible elements there are, look no further than the Prof’s book ‘Professor Astro Cat’s Atomic Adventure’, available from Flying Eye Books. Finally, keep your eyes peeled for news of our new brain-puzzling, science-packed app, out soon!


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