The mole… In all it’s glory

The most common way to measure chemical substances is through moles . . .Well no, not that kind of mole . . . a chemical mole is a unit of measure, just like a gram or an ounce. It is used internationally so that all chemists speak the same measurement language. The mole was invented because, well, it made sense. Scientists were having a hard time converting between atoms of an element and grams of an element, so scientists came up with a “mole” of substance, which is defined as anything that has 6.02×1023 particles in it.You might recognize 6.02×1023 as Avogadro’s number; this number is used as a constant throughout chemistry, and here we’re going to use it to define the mole. Usually, moles refer to particles that make up a certain amount of an element, and we use moles to measure how much of a substance is reacting in a chemical equation. However, you can also measure other things in moles—for example, a mole of horses would be 6.02×1023 horses . . . which is actually quite a lot. When you think about a mole as 602,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 horses, it seems like way too big of a number to be describing something that fits in a beaker in the chemistry lab! However, because atoms are so small there are bunches of atoms in everything we’re measuring. Therefore, a mole is actually a very appropriate way to measure chemical substances.

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