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77 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back
Minute unit made of subatomic particles that is the basic building block of all chemical elements and thus all matter; the smallest unit of an element that can exist and still have the unique characteristics of that element.
Matter, energy, or information entering a system
electromagnetic radiation
Forms of kinetic energy traveling as electromagnetic waves. Examples are radio waves, TV waves, microwaves, infrared radiation, visible light, ultraviolet radiation, X-rays, and gamma rays. Compare ionizing radiation, nonionizing radiation
Numeric value that indicates the relative acidity or alkalinity of a substance on a scale of 0 to 14, with the neutral point at 7. Acid solutions have pH values lower than 7, and basic or alkaline solutions have pH values greater than 7.
alpha particle
Positively charged matter, consisting of two neutrons and two protons, that is emitted as a form of radioactivity from the nuclei of some radioisotopes.
scientific theory
A well-tested and widely accepted scientific hypothesis.
Combination of atoms, or oppositely charged ions, of two or more different elements held together by attractive forces called chemical bonds
low-quality energy:
Energy that is dispersed and has little ability to do useful work. An example is low-temperature heat
chemical change
Interaction between chemicals in which there is a change in the chemical composition of the elements or compounds involved.
second law of thermodynamics
In any conversion of heat energy to useful work, some of the initial energy input is always degraded to a lower-quality, more dispersed, less useful energy, usually low-temperature heat that flows into the environment; you canÕt break even in terms of energy quality
chemical formula
Shorthand way to show the number of atoms (or ions) in the basic structural unit of a compound. Examples are H2O, NaCl, and C6H12O6
organic compounds:
Compounds containing carbon atoms combined with each other and with atoms of one or more other elements such as hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine, and fluorine. All other compounds are called inorganic compounds
beta particle
Swiftly moving electron emitted by the nucleus of a radioactive isotope. See also alpha particle, gamma rays
scientific law
Description of what scientists find happening in nature over and over in the same way, without known exception. See first law of thermodynamics, law of conservation of matter, second law of thermodynamics. Compare scientific data, scientific hypothesis, scientific methods, scientific model, scientific theory
Chemical, such as hydrogen (H), iron (Fe), sodium (Na), carbon (C), nitrogen (N), or oxygen (O), whose distinctly different atoms serve as the basic building blocks of all matter. There are 92 naturally occurring elements. Another 23 have been made in laboratories. Two or more elements combine to form compounds that make up most of the worldÕs matter.
high-throughput economy
The situation in most advanced industrialized countries, in which ever-increasing economic growth is sustained by maximizing the rate at which matter and energy resources are used, with little emphasis on pollution prevention, recycling, reuse, reduction of unnecessary waste, and other forms of resource conservation
biodegradable pollutant
Material that can be broken down into simpler substances (elements and compounds) by bacteria or other decomposers. Paper and most organic wastes such as animal manure are biodegradable but can take decades to biodegrade in modern landfills
nondegradable pollutant:
Material that is not broken down by natural processes. Examples are the toxic elements lead and mercury. Compare biodegradable pollutant, degradable pollutant, slowly degradable pollutant.
critical mass
Amount of fissionable nuclei needed to sustain a nuclear fission chain reaction
natural radioactive decay:
Nuclear change in which unstable nuclei of atoms spontaneously shoot out particles (usually alpha or beta particles) or energy (gamma rays) at a fixed rate
A set of components that function and interact in some regular and theoretically predictable manner.
electron (e
Tiny particle moving around outside the nucleus of an atom. Each electron has one unit of negative charge and almost no mass.
scientific methods:
The ways scientists gather data and formulate and test scientific hypotheses, models, theories, and laws. See scientific data, scientific hypothesis, scientific law, scientific model, scientific theory.
A grouping of various genes and associated proteins in plant and animal cells that carry certain types of genetic information
law of conservation of matter:
In any physical or chemical change, matter is neither created nor destroyed but merely changed from one form to another; in physical and chemical changes, existing atoms are rearranged into different spatial patterns (physical changes) or different combinations (chemical changes).
degradable pollutant
Potentially polluting chemical that is broken down completely or reduced to acceptable levels by natural physical, chemical, and biological processes. Compare biodegradable pollutant, nondegradable pollutant, slowly degradable pollutant
Total kinetic energy of all the randomly moving atoms, ions, or molecules within a given substance, excluding the overall motion of the whole object. Heat always flows spontaneously from a hot sample of matter to a colder sample of matter. This is one way to state the second law of thermodynamics
Capacity to do work by performing mechanical, physical, chemical, or electrical tasks or to cause a heat transfer between two objects at different temperatures
matter quality:
Measure of how useful a matter resource is, based on its availability and concentration.
Amount of a chemical in a particular volume or weight of air, water, soil, or other medium.
nuclear fission:
Nuclear change in which the nuclei of certain isotopes with large mass numbers (such as uranium-235 and plutonium-239) are split apart into lighter nuclei when struck by a neutron. This process releases more neutrons and a large amount of energy
atomic number
Number of protons in the nucleus of an atom. Compare mass number.
frontier science
Preliminary scientific data, hypotheses, and models that have not been widely tested and accepted
chain reaction:
Multiple nuclear fissions, taking place within a certain mass of a fissionable isotope, that release an enormous amount of energy in a short time.
Attempts to discover order in nature and use that knowledge to make predictions about what should happen in nature. See consensus science, frontier science, scientific data, scientific hypothesis, scientific law, scientific methods, scientific model, scientific theory
energy quality:
Ability of a form of energy to do useful work. High-temperature heat and the chemical energy in fossil fuels and nuclear fuels are concentrated high-quality energy. Low-quality energy such as low-temperature heat is dispersed or diluted and cannot do much useful work
How long a pollutant stays in the air, water, soil, or body
feedback loop
Circuit of sensing, evaluating, and reacting to changes in environmental conditions as a result of information fed back into a system; it occurs when one change leads to some other change, which eventually reinforces or slows the original change
nuclear fusion:
Nuclear change in which two nuclei of isotopes of elements with a low mass number (such as hydrogen-2 and hydrogen-3) are forced together at extremely high temperatures until they fuse to form a heavier nucleus (such as helium-4). This process releases a large amount of energy. Compare nuclear fission.
energy efficiency
Percentage of the total energy input that does useful work and is not converted into low-quality, usually useless heat in an energy conversion system or process. See energy quality, net energy
potential energy:
Energy stored in an object because of its position or the position of its parts. Compare kinetic energy.
consensus science
Scientific data, models, theories, and laws that are widely accepted by scientists considered experts in the area of study. These results of science are very reliable. Compare frontier science.
inorganic compounds:
All compounds not classified as organic compounds.
Two or more forms of a chemical element that have the same number of protons but different mass numbers because they have different numbers of neutrons in their nuclei
matter-recycling economy:
Economy that emphasizes recycling the maximum amount of all resources that can be recycled. The goal is to allow economic growth to continue without depleting matter resources and without producing excessive pollution and environmental degradation. Compare high-throughput economy, low-throughput economy
nuclear change:
Process in which nuclei of certain isotopes spontaneously change, or are forced to change, into one or more different isotopes. The three principal types of nuclear change are natural radioactivity, nuclear fission, and nuclear fusion
scientific data
Facts obtained by making observations and measurements. Compare model, scientific hypothesis, scientific law, scientific methods, scientific model, scientific theory
Atom or group of atoms with one or more positive (+) or negative (-) electrical charges. Compare atom, molecule.
Extremely tiny center of an atom, making up most of the atomÕs mass. It contains one or more positively charged protons and one or more neutrons with no electrical charge (except for a hydrogen-1 atom, which has one proton and no neutrons in its nucleus).
proton (p):
Positively charged particle in the nuclei of all atoms. Each proton has a relative mass of 1 and a single positive charge
low-throughput economy:
Economy based on working with nature by (1) recycling and reusing discarded matter, (2) preventing pollution, (3) conserving matter and energy resources by reducing unnecessary waste and use, (4) not degrading renewable resources, (5) building things that are easy to recycle, reuse, and repair, (6) not allowing population size to exceed the carrying capacity of the environment, and (7) preserving biodiversity. See environmental worldview
scientific hypothesis
An educated guess that attempts to explain a scientific law or certain scientific observations. Compare scientific data, scientific law, scientific methods, scientific model, scientific theory.
Measure of the average speed of motion of the atoms, ions, or molecules in a substance or combination of substances at a given moment.
gamma rays:
A form of ionizing electromagnetic radiation with a high energy content emitted by some radioisotopes. They readily penetrate body tissues.
A particular chemical or form of energy that can adversely affect the health, survival, or activities of humans or other living organisms
slowly degradable pollutant:
Material that is slowly broken down into simpler chemicals or reduced to acceptable levels by natural physical, chemical, and biological processes
Isotope of an atom that spontaneously emits one or more types of radioactivity (alpha particles, beta particles, gamma rays).
low-quality matter:
Matter that is dilute or dispersed or contains a low concentration of a useful resource
first law of thermodynamics
In any physical or chemical change, no detectable amount of energy is created or destroyed, but in these processes energy can be changed from one form to another; you canÕt get more energy out of something than you put in; in terms of energy quantity, you canÕt get something for nothing (there is no free lunch). This law does not apply to nuclear changes, in which energy can be produced from small amounts of matter
negative feedback loop
Situation in which a change in a certain direction provides information that causes a system to change less in that direction
Maintenance of favorable internal conditions in a system despite fluctuations in external conditions
physical change:
Process that alters one or more physical properties of an element or a compound without altering its chemical composition. Examples are changing the size and shape of a sample of matter (crushing ice and cutting aluminum foil) and changing a sample of matter from one physical state to another (boiling and freezing water).
synergistic interaction:
Interaction of two or more factors or processes so that the combined effect is greater than the sum of their separate effects
Combination of two or more atoms of the same chemical element (such as O2) or different chemical elements (such as H2O) held together by chemical bonds
time delay:
Time lag between the input of a stimulus into a system and the response to the stimulus
Combination of one or more elements and compounds
mass number:
Sum of the number of neutrons (n) and the number of protons (p) in the nucleus of an atom. It gives the approximate mass of that atom
material efficiency:
Total amount of material needed to produce each unit of goods or services. Also called resource productivity
An approximate representation or simulation of a system being studied
Matter, energy, or information leaving a system
high-quality matter
Matter that is concentrated and contains a high concentration of a useful resource
neutron (n):
Elementary particle in the nuclei of all atoms (except hydrogen-1). It has a relative mass of 1 and no electric charge
Time needed for one-half of the nuclei in a radioisotope to emit its radiation. Each radioisotope has a characteristic half-life, which may range from a few millionths of a second to several billion years.
Coded units of information about specific traits that are passed on from parents to offspring during reproduction. They consist of segments of DNA molecules found in chromosomes
high-quality energy
Energy that is concentrated and has great ability to perform useful work. Examples are high-temperature heat and the energy in electricity, coal, oil, gasoline, sunlight, and nuclei of uranium-235.
positive feedback loop:
Situation in which a change in a certain direction provides information that causes a system to change further in the same direction
kinetic energy:
Energy that matter has because of its mass and speed or velocity