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What's Inside of an Atom?

"What's Inside of An Atom?" artwork. Magnified cartoon atom.


NGSS Standards:


0605-What_s Inside an Atom
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What are protons, neutrons, and electrons made out of? That’s what listener Xander wants to know. Physics expert Aatish Bhatia takes us on a journey into the atom, and explains how scientists discover things that are too small to see. You’ll find out how Albert Einstein helped prove the existence of atoms, and why physicists smash particles like pinatas in massive tunnels.


Photo of Aatish Bhatia

Aatish Bhatia has been Tumble's "wish list" of scientists to interview almost since the show began! We discovered him through his fantastic blog with Radiolab's Robert Krulwich, called Noticing.


We all learn in school that atoms are the building blocks of the universe. That's a "science fact." But did you know that atoms were very controversial for a very, very long time?

This video from Reactions is a great summary of the history of atomic discovery.

Physics Girl explains how scientists are trying to capture a real image of an atom.

Feel like reading? Science News for Students has a great breakdown of ALL the subatomic particles. Yes, there's more than just quarks and gluons! (Although we chose to focus on those to answer Xander's specific question.)

Want more resources? Science News for Students also provides recommended websites and books for students to learn about atoms, here.

Bonus for babies and toddlers! Also, gift alert: There's a super cute board book called The ABCs of Particle Physics.

Want to play with quarks? There's a game for that! Check out "Quarked" to learn about subatomic particles through play.


Let's face it, we all think big collisions are the coolest. See where they happen!

There are a lot of ways to explore the LHC without going to Switzerland (it's an expensive trip).

You can visit one of the experiments in Minecraft, with ATLASCraft!

Visit ATLAS at CERN for a wealth of other educational activities aimed at kids aged 5 - 12, including a coloring book and LEGO challenge.


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