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What is an isotope and how is it different from an element?

An isotope is a variation of an element with a different number of neutrons. It differs from an element in its atomic mass.

Isotopes are atoms of the same element with different numbers of neutrons in their nuclei. This means that isotopes have the same number of protons and electrons as their parent element, but a different atomic mass. For example, carbon-12 and carbon-14 are both isotopes of carbon, with 6 protons and 6 electrons, but carbon-12 has 6 neutrons and carbon-14 has 8 neutrons.

Isotopes can have different physical and chemical properties from their parent element. For example, radioactive isotopes can decay and emit radiation, which can be used in medical imaging and cancer treatment. Isotopes can also be used in dating rocks and fossils, as well as in tracing chemical reactions and metabolic pathways.

The abundance of isotopes in nature can vary, with some isotopes being more common than others. For example, carbon-12 is the most common isotope of carbon, making up 98.9% of all carbon atoms, while carbon-14 is much rarer, making up only 0.011% of all carbon atoms.

In summary, isotopes are variations of an element with different numbers of neutrons, which can have different physical and chemical properties from their parent element. They are important in a range of scientific fields, from medicine to geology.

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