The difference between mitosis and meiosis

Mitosis is the process of cell division where one cell divides into two cells which are identical to the original cell. This takes place in all our somatic ("normal") cells.

Meiosis is a special form of cell division that only takes place in the sex organs (gonads) of organisms that undergo sexual reproduction, in order to produce sperm or eggs (gametes). Here, the resulting sperm/egg cells are not identical to the original dividing cell, but only have half the amount of chromosomes as our normal cells (haploid).

Human somatic cells normally have 46 chromosomes; 23 of them come from the mother, and the other 23 from the father. These somatic cells are referred to as being diploid, meaning they have 2 copies of each chromosome. Meiosis is basically a halving process so that the sperm or egg will finally end up with 23 chromosomes each (haploid), so that when they fuse during fertilization, the result is 46 chromosomes again.

Human somatic cells have 2 copies of 23 chromosomes (one copy from the mother, and one copy from the father), totalling 46 chromosomes

Read more about the process of mitosis and meiosis.