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Creative Science: Chemistry

Updated on May 16, 2010


  • Orbits
  • Screening Effect
  • Radius
  • Effinity
  • Lattice Energy
  • Z Effective

He stood at the edge of a giant cliff, its looming grandeur seemingly capturing every particle in his small body.

                It reminds me of chemistry.

                The stars above him shined like a million incandescent lights, lighting the bleak space before him like a spotlight, casting shadows of creatures he didn’t even know existed.  In the distant the faint glow of a city glowed ominously.

                The world is connected.  Everything.  Everywhere.

                He picked up a rock and, oddly, thought of chemistry.  He thought of all the tiny atoms that had combined together in thousands of compounds; he thought of how all the electrons in all of these atoms had to move, weave, their way to and from each other.  They were in a battlefield, he thought.  How they were unconventionally bound to an atom, the pull of the nucleus’s proton unwillingly forcing them inwards; how they had to compete with their fellow brothers, a repulsive force competing with the attraction.  

                At least they knew their place in the world.

                He looked at the rock, admiring how stable and secure it was.  It knew its place in the world.  The electrons, even if they were at war with each other, still – in the end – came together in orbits (2,8,8, 18), making an atom fully stable and complete.  In the end it was the completeness that made the world both simple and complex.  The atom was made up of a number of different energy levels, and complexities.  For one their was the screening effect, also known as the Z effective.  It was the notion that as more electrons joined an atom, that atom became smaller, its radius decreasing.  And as that radius decreased, and more protons and electrons were added, the inner electrons would ‘screen’ the effect of the protons from the outer ones.

                Even at the molecular level things help each other.

                This effect also added to the stability of the atom.  The ionization energy of an atom increased as this screening effect increased (which in turn was the decreasing of the radius).  The smaller it became, the more powerful it was.  Also, added to this, was an electrons effinity – its ‘power’ level.  Even though it despised to be a part of that team, the more of the brothers that it repulsed the more powerful it became.   This, added with the lattice energy, the overall energy keeping a compound together, made this tiny object a powerful and concrete force.

                Incredible.  The world is so vast, and yet so small.

                He looked down at the other rocks that spotted the cliff.  He looked at how they were smaller rocks and bigger rocks – and as he looked on, something clicked.  Even though the bigger rocks were more powerful, had a bigger mass, and were more dangerous, they weren’t as stable.  The smaller rocks were much harder to break apart then the big ones; the smaller ones, he thought, were the ones that made up this entire valley.  Down to the molecular level it was the same.  The bigger, the more protons and electrons there were, the bigger the radius ended up being (more shells), and thus the energy required to break apart, the screening effect, all of it was lower.

                Watch this.

                He reached down and picked up one of the bigger boulders.  Then, with one giant pull, he lifted it up and dropped it to the ground.  The rock smashed into pieces.   Next, engaged by his little experiment, he did the same thing with a small rock.  It hit the ground innocently, not even gaining a scratch.

                The power this world holds…

                He sat down and smiled.  He had, if only for the briefest of moments, understood an invisible world, the world that sat beneath him, the world that held him up, the world that made everything be.  He looked at the sky just in time to see a shooting star streak across it.

                How there was so much more to learn…


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