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Living things are made of matter. In fact, matter is the "stuff" of which all things are made (see figure below. Anything that occupies space and has mass is known as matter. Matter, in turn, consists of bsci-ch.orgical substances. bsci-ch.orgistry is the study of matter and the changes it undergoes.
An element is a pure substance that cannot be broken down into different types of substances. Examples of elements include carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and iron. Each element is made up of just one type of atom. An atom is the smallest particle of an element that still characterizes the element. As shown in the figure below, at the center of an atom is a nucleus. The nucleus contains positively charged particles called protons and electrically neutral particles called neutrons. Surrounding the nucleus is a much larger electron cloud consisting of negatively charged electrons. An atom is electrically neutral if it has the same number of protons as electrons. Each element has atoms with a characteristic number of protons. For example, all carbon atoms have six protons, and all oxygen atoms have eight protons.
There are almost 120 known elements (see figure below) and each is represented in the periodic table by a one or two letter symbol. The majority of known elements are classified as metals. Metals are elements that are lustrous, or shiny. They are also good conductors of electricity and heat. Examples of metals include iron, gold, and copper. Fewer than 20 elements are classified as nonmetals. Nonmetals lack the properties of metals. Examples of nonmetals include oxygen, hydrogen, and sulfur. Certain other elements have properties of both metals and nonmetals. They are known as metalloids. Examples of metalloids include silicon and boron.
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