Originally Posted by nathris
So the classification of an atom is dependent on it's overall charge, not the number of protons? High school chemistry lied to me again :/
I wonder what would happen if they made a nucleus consisting of equal numbers of protons and muons...
Classification of particles is quite different from classification of elements. Unique elements are determined by the number of protons -- different isotopes of the same element are determined by the overall charge. However, there are a few different types of "particles" that can be classified -- baryons (protons are baryons) are made up of quarks called up, down, charm, strange, top and bottom (which each have three properties themselves: mass, charge, and spin); leptons (electrons and muons are leptons) are standalone particles; and then there are other ones you don't hear about often: mesons, bosons (light photons are bosons), which transmit fundamental interactions...
Anyway, the point is you weren't lied to, you just weren't given the whole picture -- elements are still classified by proton number. The same concept applies to every field of study -- you learn bits and pieces at a time because otherwise you'd be completely overwhelmed and just give up. Edited by flamingoyster - 1/28/11 at 1:12pm