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No, it cannot. A whole number is a quantity without units - a pure number. A mass of 1 pound is a whole number of pounds but it is 0.45359 kilograms: not a whole number, or 453.59 grams, again not a whole number.

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Q: Can mass only be a whole number?
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Does the mass number of an element have to be a whole number?

Approximately, yes. But the mass number is an average of the masses of the isotopes of the element, weighted together according to their abundance. This averaging of different whole numbers results in the mass number not being a whole number.

Why is the atomic mass number not a whole number?

We can find Atomic Mass and mass number in chemical elements. Atomic mass is about weight of the atom. Mass number is about total of neutrons and protons.

Why is atomic mass usually a whole number?

It is not usually a whole number. It would appear that you have been misinformed.

Is there is only one whole number that is not a rational number?

The only non-natural whole number is 0.

Why is an elements atomic mass not listed as a whole number on the table?

There are two main reasons. The first is that the masses of protons and neutrons are not 1 unit but slightly greater. The mass of an atom is the mass of a whole number of protons, a whole number of neutrons as well as the same number of electrons as protons. Overall, therefore, the mass should be greater than the number of protons and neutrons (electrons have very little mass). But some of the mass is converted to energy which is used to hold the positively charged nucleus together. As a result the mass of carbon12 is an exact whole number and that is the only element for which that is true.The second, and possibly more relevant reason is that most atoms are found in the form of isotopes which have different numbers of neutrons and so different masses. The atomic mass listed for an element is an average of the masses of all these isotopes, weighted together according to their abundance of earth.

Related questions

Why are mass numbers whole numbers?

mass numbers are whole numbers because the mass number is number of protons in an atom, plus the number of neutrons. you can only have a whole neutron and or proton, therefore, all mass numbers are whole numbers.

What is molar mass a whole number multiple of?

Molar mass is a whole number multiple of the Empirical formula mass

Why atomic mass is always a whole number but atomic weight may be a decimal number?

Atomic mass of isotopes is not a whole number.

What is the nearest whole number of atomic mass of potassium?

The nearest Whole number of atomic mass of potassium is 69

What is an element's atomic mass not listed as a whole number on the periodic table?

Few elements have isotopes. their atomic mass is not a whole number.

Why is lithium's mass number a decimal number?

The mass number is a whole number, but the atomic mass may not be. Mass numbers are the total number of neutrons and protons in an isotope (different from atomic numbers, which are the whole numbers of protons only). These are also whole numbers, and for most lithium, it is 7. The mass number is 6 for lithium-6, which has only 3 neutrons. However, the "atomic mass" of an element is measured in atomic mass units, which are 1/12 of the weight of a carbon-12 atom (6 protons and 6 neutrons). Since neutrons are slightly heavier than protons, and there are more neutrons than protons in lithium-7 (3 protons to 4 neutrons), the atomic mass is slightly more than 7.

How do isotopes differ and why is the atomic number of elements not a whole number?

Isotopes differ from each other by having different numbers of neutrons but the same number of protons since they are only the same element if they have the same number of protons. Atomic numbers aren't whole because their mass is based of the mass of hydrogen and amu's (atomic mass units) and due to how elements are formed, minute amounts of mass are lost in order to form the nuclear bonds resulting in not whole numbers.

What is a whole number which represents the total number of protons and neutrons?

This is the mass number.

Is the atomic mass of an element is always a whole number of atomic mass untis?


Why the relative atomic mass is not a whole number?

Bexause its similar with the atomic mass

Why is the atomic mass of an element not a whole number while the atomic number is?

The atomic number refers to the number of protons in the atom. Since the proton cannot be an in-between number, the atomic number will have to be a whole number. On the other hand, the atomic mass does not have to be a whole number because it is the mass of an atom and is roughly equivalent to the number of protons plus the average number of neutrons in that particular element.

Can explain in terms of isotopes why the relative atomic mass of atomic number 17 is not a whole number?

Mass number is the average of all the naturally occurring isotopes of that element. When calculated, this average is not a whole number.