In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elements cannot be broken down into simpler substances by chemical means. The number of protons in the nucleus is the defining property of an element, and is referred to as its atomic number – all atoms with the same atomic number are atoms of the same element. All of the baryonic matter of the universe is composed of chemical elements. When different elements undergo chemical reactions, atoms are rearranged into new compounds held together by chemical bonds. Only a minority of elements, such as silver and gold, are found uncombined as relatively pure native element minerals. Nearly all other naturally-occurring elements occur in the Earth as compounds or mixtures. Air is primarily a mixture of the elements nitrogen, oxygen, and argon, though it does contain compounds including carbon dioxide and water.
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