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A proton is a stable subatomic particle. It is found in all types of conventional atoms, and is located in the nucleus. Along with neutrons, it forms a nucleon. The proton has a positive charge, unlike the negative electrons in an atom. If an atom becomes imbalanced either positively or negatively, it will become an ion, also known as a charged particle.

Protons were thought to have been discovered and named by Ernest Rutherford, a physicist from New Zealand who specialized in nuclear physics. However, it is thought that it was first theorized by English chemist, physician, and natural theologian William Prout.  The proton was first theorized in 1815 and officially discovered in the early 1900s.

An atom is made up of a certain number of protons, neutrons, and electrons. However, the number of protons is the most important variable. The number of protons present in an atom is very important. This number is known as the atomic number of a proton. The atomic number will identify what the atom is. Each chemical element will have a different atomic number. Atoms that have low atomic numbers are the most prevalent ones in our universe.

A proton that is not attached to electrons or nucleons is known as a free proton. This is a stable particle that is found naturally in areas where temperatures or energies are high. These scenarios are ideal to make the proton separate from the electron. If free protons are introduced to an area where temperatures are low enough, they will once again bind to electrons. The stability of protons outside of an atom or as a free proton makes these particles ideal for experimentation.

An antiproton is the opposite of a proton. This specific antimatter has a negative charge, instead of a regular proton’s positive charge. If an antiproton comes into contact with any normal matter, it will explode. This is the case for all anti-matter. However, antiprotons are also considered a stable antiparticle. The existence of the antiproton was officially proven in 1955.