Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Happy Mole Day!

Yep, it's here again. October 23 (10/23) is mole day, in honor of the mole (mol).

For those not in the know, a mole is measure of quantity (just like a dozen) that contains 6.022 x 1023 parts - used almost exclusively to describe the number of atoms or molecules in a given quantity.

How do you wrap your head around a mole of anything? 1023?? Well, imagine this: if you consider the volume of the average grain of sand, you would have to bury the entire state of Pennsylvania in more than 3 km (almost 2 miles!!) of sand grains to equal one mole of sand grains.

That's a lot, right? It is, but that's for a huge grain of sand. The mole is more useful for very, very small entities such as an atom or molecule. As an example, the typical half liter plastic bottle of water (500 mL) contains just under 28 moles of water molecules.

1 mole of sand grains will bury this state, yet 28 moles of water fits in a handy half-liter bottle.

To learn more, become a chemistry major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

No comments: