Science Dictionary
atomic number  
The number of protons in the nucleus of an atom. In electrically neutral atoms, this number is also equal to the number of electrons orbiting about the atom's nucleus. The atomic number of an element determines its position in the periodic table, and is usually denoted by the letter Z and written as a subscript before an element's symbol, as in 92U.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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