Chapter 1. Energy

Our material world is composed of many substances distinguished by their chemical, mechanical, and electrical properties. They are found in nature in various physical states—the familiar solid, liquid, and gas, along with the ionic “plasma.” However, the apparent diversity of kinds and forms of material is reduced by the knowledge that there are only a little more than 100 distinct chemical elements and that the chemical and physical features of substances depend merely on the strength of force bonds between atoms.

In turn, the distinctions between the elements of nature arise from the number and arrangement of basic particles—electrons, protons, and neutrons. At both the atomic and nuclear levels, the structure of elements ...

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