the fusion reaction
should be understood as representing nuclei, with total mass numbers
given by superscripts, and nuclear charge (equal to the number of
protons) given by subscripts. An electron is represented as ,
with a zero mass number (not counted among the nucleons) and a -1
charge. In the fusion equation four hydrogen nuclei (not atoms)
combine with two of the four electrons around the atoms to form
a helium nucleus. The two remaining original electrons, not shown
in the equation, associate with the nucleus to build a neutral helium
A proton in this representation is p,
and a neutron is .
The uranium fission reaction tells us that a uranium nucleus, when
bombarded by a neutron, breaks down into barium and krypton nuclei
with the release of three more neutrons. Therefore this is a chain
reaction, with more neutrons released than were used up. These neutrons
can bombard neighboring
nuclei and produce even more fission.
Mass number (superscripts) and charge (subscripts) are conserved
in nuclear reactions of this type, just as the number of each kind
of atom is conserved in a chemical reaction. You should verify that
the sum of subscripts, and sum of superscripts, are constant on
the two sides of the equation.