The smallest unit of a chemical element which retains its own characteristics. An excellent book on the atoms and Einstein’s theory of relativity is “Mr Tompkins in paperback” by George Gamow.

When atoms combine in nuclear reactions, such as the nuclear fusion at the heart of stars, a small amount of mass is ‘lost’. It is not in fact truly lost, the missing matter is converted into energy as described by Einstein’s fameous equation.

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