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Christian95's avatar

How do objects have a charge?

Asked by Christian95 (3260points) November 9th, 2009

Today at chemestry my teacher told me that an atom is neutral no matter what happens(it has an equal number of protons and electrons)
So if this is true how do objects get a charge?(getting a charge means to have more negative(electrons) or positives(protons) charges

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12 Answers

evegrimm's avatar

Well, either that Chemistry teacher is on something, or perhaps you misheard.

The number that determines what element an atom is is it’s proton count. Electrons can and do change—more electrons make an atom negatively charged, fewer make it positively charged.

To clarify—proton count is the only thing that doesn’t change. (Different proton count means different elements.) Different number of neutrons = isotope, different number of electrons = ion.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

They drag their feet across the carpet in winter.

Christian95's avatar

@evegrimm thank you very much for confirming me that my chemestry teacher is a total idiot.
Your answer is exactly what my physics teacher(a real one not an idiot)told me last year when I studied electrification of the objects.

Shuttle128's avatar

Atoms can gain or lose electrons thus creating ions. Usually there are a number of electrons that are not often lost. I can imagine that this might be what your teacher was referring to. The description of which electrons are most likely to be lost or gained depends on several different factors. Usually we refer to the outermost shell of the atom as the valence shell. The valence shell contains spaces where the electrons are most likely to be lost or gained. A good high school chemistry class should cover at least the basics of ionization.

NewZen's avatar

@Christian95 You still might want to check the spelling of the idiot’s title. Evegrimm corrected you, and you ignored it.

mattbrowne's avatar

Sorry to say this, but maybe your chemistry teacher has never seen thunderstorms with lightnings. Or sunshine, for that matter (our sun contains plasma). Seriously, I suspect you misunderstood your teacher.

Christian95's avatar

@mattbrowne I didn’t misunderstand my teacher because I put her this question(how do objects have a CHARGE)and she THOUGHT a little and than she told me that she’ll think more and will give me the answers later.At the end of the class I told her that the number of electrons can vary and she told me again that electrons and protons are in equal number in an atom

mattbrowne's avatar

@Christian95 – How did she become a chemistry teacher?

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

Well, if you want to split hairs, there are atoms, and there are ions. Knock an electron off an atom and you get an ion. It’s very easy to do. Just shuffle your feet across a nylon carpet and touch a water faucet if you want a demonstration.

Val123's avatar

Well, send her here!
An atom CAN be neutral if it happens to have the same number of electrons and protons, but I’m guessing most atoms don’t have an equal number. I’d like to think that this is a miscommunication….

An atom containing an equal number of protons and electrons is electrically neutral

Narl's avatar

Your teacher is not the smartest. Atoms that are not neutral are called ions.

Christian95's avatar

@mattbrowne I have no idea and she’s not new,she’s been teacher 8 years and she won a few prizes with her previous students.So i really don’t know why she’s such a bad teacher for me.

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