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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Discuss the relationships between matter, mass, elements, compounds, atoms, and subatomic particles
  • Distinguish between atomic number and mass number
  • Identify the key distinction between isotopes of the same element
  • Explain how electrons occupy electron shells and their contribution to an atom’s relative stability

The substance of the universe—from a grain of sand to a star—is called matter    . Scientists define matter as anything that occupies space and has mass. An object’s mass and its weight are related concepts, but not quite the same. An object’s mass is the amount of matter contained in the object, and the object’s mass is the same whether that object is on Earth or in the zero-gravity environment of outer space. An object’s weight, on the other hand, is its mass as affected by the pull of gravity. Where gravity strongly pulls on an object’s mass its weight is greater than it is where gravity is less strong. An object of a certain mass weighs less on the moon, for example, than it does on Earth because the gravity of the moon is less than that of Earth. In other words, weight is variable, and is influenced by gravity. A piece of cheese that weighs a pound on Earth weighs only a few ounces on the moon.

Elements and compounds

All matter in the natural world is composed of one or more of the 92 fundamental substances called elements. An element    is a pure substance that is distinguished from all other matter by the fact that it cannot be created or broken down by ordinary chemical means. While your body can assemble many of the chemical compounds needed for life from their constituent elements, it cannot make elements. They must come from the environment. A familiar example of an element that you must take in is calcium (Ca ++ ). Calcium is essential to the human body; it is absorbed and used for a number of processes, including strengthening bones. When you consume dairy products your digestive system breaks down the food into components small enough to cross into the bloodstream. Among these is calcium, which, because it is an element, cannot be broken down further. The elemental calcium in cheese, therefore, is the same as the calcium that forms your bones. Some other elements you might be familiar with are oxygen, sodium, and iron. The elements in the human body are shown in [link] , beginning with the most abundant: oxygen (O), carbon (C), hydrogen (H), and nitrogen (N). Each element’s name can be replaced by a one- or two-letter symbol; you will become familiar with some of these during this course. All the elements in your body are derived from the foods you eat and the air you breathe.

Elements of the human body

This figure shows a human body with the percentage of the main elements in the body, in the left panel. In the right panel, a table lists the elements and the percentages in the body.
The main elements that compose the human body are shown from most abundant to least abundant.

In nature, elements rarely occur alone. Instead, they combine to form compounds. A compound    is a substance composed of two or more elements joined by chemical bonds. For example, the compound glucose is an important body fuel. It is always composed of the same three elements: carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Moreover, the elements that make up any given compound always occur in the same relative amounts. In glucose, there are always six carbon and six oxygen units for every twelve hydrogen units. But what, exactly, are these “units” of elements?

Questions & Answers

what is systemic anatomy
Friday Reply
it's a study of organ structure
definition of anatomy and physiology
Kapil Reply
in anatomy we study about structure of human body........ in physiology we study about function
Explain the anatomy
structure of heart
explain biology
biology is the science of life. biologists study the structure, function, growth, origin, evolution and distribution of living organisms.
how is albino affected
Ujam Reply
what are the important stuff in the papillary layer
Melanie's is responsible for the change in the color of the skin
what happened when they are badly severed
what happened when they are badly severed
Examples of glial cells?
Nesh Reply
glial cell s help in the attractive foces of motion in the cellular network
What is glial cell?
what is homeostasis
Laura Reply
homeostasis- The ability to maintain relatively stable internal conditions even though the outside world changes continuously. i,e, maintaining normal values in your body such as Adequate blood levels,blood pressure, heart activity and blood pressure.
thank you
Give atleast three reasons to study anatomy and physiology
George Reply
It helps to know about the body structure properly and administer proper care for the patient
what's augmentin
Aphet Reply
augmentin is a type of combination antibiotic.
Can you explain to Heart anatomy in details please?
Handren Reply
definition of anatomy and physiology
Sardar Reply
Anatomy is the study structure of the body while physiology is the study of function of the body
What is a dorsal cavity?
John Reply
Explain in detail mitosis and meiosis
sedeck Reply
What is Sodium Potassium Pump?
Mwamba Reply
The process of moving sodium and potassium ions across the cell membrance is an active transport process involving the hydrolysis of ATP to provide the necessary energy. It involves an enzyme referred to as Na+/K+-ATPase
yes men.
does it mean that there are two definitions of gross anatomy
Esther Reply
what is anatomy?
Hridy Reply
I think it's the study of the internal and external features of the body and its physical relationship between body parts
anatomy is the study of all the structure of body parts of living organisms
to study the structure of human body parts
anatomy is the study of human body
jaundice causes by when bilirubin blockage of bilary system
mahamed Reply
Yeah, when there is a blockage in the bilary system( bile ducts) which lead to obstruction of the bile pigments called bilirubin leading to a characteristically yellowish appearance of the eyes.
there are three main resons why bilirubin levels in the blood may rise: 1. pre-hepatic jaundice,2. hepatic jaundice, 3. post hepatic

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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