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EMF Glossary Definition


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An ion is an atom or molecule that has an unequal number of protons and electrons, which gives it a net positive or negative electric charge. Ions are formed when atoms or molecules gain or lose electrons. This fundamental concept is key in various fields of science, including chemistry, physics, and biology.

Formation of Ions:

  1. Loss of Electrons: When an atom or molecule loses one or more electrons, it becomes positively charged and is known as a cation. This happens because the atom now has more protons (positively charged) than electrons (negatively charged). Common examples include sodium (Na) losing an electron to form Na⁺.
  2. Gain of Electrons: Conversely, when an atom or molecule gains electrons, it becomes negatively charged and is known as an anion. The addition of electrons means there are more electrons than protons. Chlorine (Cl), for example, often gains an electron to form Cl⁻.

Characteristics and Behavior of Ions:

  • Chemical Reactivity: Ions are often more chemically reactive than their uncharged (neutral) counterparts. This is because the presence of a charge makes them more likely to participate in chemical reactions, as they seek to achieve a stable electron configuration.
  • Formation of Ionic Compounds: Ions typically form ionic compounds by combining in ways that balance their positive and negative charges. For example, sodium ions (Na⁺) and chloride ions (Cl⁻) combine to form sodium chloride (NaCl), common table salt.
  • Conductivity: Solutions of ions (electrolytes) conduct electricity. When dissolved in a solvent like water, the ions are free to move, allowing them to carry an electric current.
  • Role in Biological Systems: Ions play critical roles in biological systems. For instance, the human body uses ions like sodium (Na⁺), potassium (K⁺), calcium (Ca²⁺), and chloride (Cl⁻) for nerve signaling, muscle function, and maintaining fluid balance.

Types of Ions:

  1. Monoatomic Ions: These are ions formed from single atoms, like Na⁺ or Cl⁻.
  2. Polyatomic Ions: These ions consist of two or more atoms bonded together, with an overall positive or negative charge. Examples include the hydroxide ion (OH⁻) and the sulfate ion (SO₄²⁻).

Formation Processes:

  • Electron Transfer: The most common way ions form is through the transfer of electrons between atoms, typically during chemical reactions.
  • Ionization: Ions can also be formed through ionization, where enough energy is supplied to an atom or molecule to remove electrons (positive ion) or add electrons (negative ion). This process is common in physical processes like evaporation or in high-energy environments like stars.

Ions are charged particles formed when atoms or molecules gain or lose electrons. The formation of ions and their interactions are central to a vast array of chemical reactions and processes, both in the laboratory and in the natural world, and they are essential to the functions of living organisms. Understanding ions and their behavior is fundamental in the fields of chemistry, physics, and biology.

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About the Author

R Blank is the CEO of Shield Your Body, which he founded in 2012. With hundreds of thousands of customers in over 30 countries, and having been interviewed on platforms including Dr. Phil, ABC news television and ElectricSense, R is an internationally followed expert on issues of EMF, health and safety. He also hosts “The Healthier Tech Podcast”, available Apple, Spotify and all major podcasting platforms. In the past, he served on the faculty at the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering as well as the University of California, Santa Cruz. Previously, R ran a software engineering firm in Los Angeles, producing enterprise-level solutions for blue chip clients including Medtronic, Apple, NBC, Toyota, Disney, Microsoft, the NFL, Ford, IKEA and Mattel. He has spoken at conferences around the world, including in the US, Canada, New Zealand and the Netherlands, and he is the co-author, along with his father Dr. Martin Blank, of ‘Overpowered‘ from Seven Stories Press about the science of health effects of EMF radiation. He has an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and received his bachelor’s degree, with honors, from Columbia University. He has also studied at Cambridge University in the UK; the University of Salamanca in Spain; and the Institute of Foreign Languages in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. Read more about R and SYB or connect with R on LinkedIn.

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