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Big Mole

In chemistry, a mole is the number of atoms contained in 12 grams of carbon-12, carbon-12 being the most common isotope of carbon on earth, containing 12 particles in its nucleus -- 6 protons and 6 neutrons. 12 grams is a little less than half of an ounce. Atoms are, of course, very tiny so there are a lot of them in even a small amount of the substance. A fellow by the name of Avogadro determined what this number is. The number is therefore referred to as Avogadro's number, which is 6.02 x 10^{23}. This is a very large number, which, of course, agrees with our assessment that there are a lot of atoms in a small amount of substance. So to put this in perspective, if we were to take a mole of pennies and lay them on the ground starting from the northeast corner of the United States, how far would they stretch? (The surface area of the United States is 3,717,792 square miles.)

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