Physics 2000 Science Trek The Periodic Table

The Structure of the Periodic Table

So...is that it?

Depends what you mean. That's it, in the sense that I've taken you through the whole periodic table as it's known today. Here are some diagrams that summarize how the structure of atoms fits together with the layout of the periodic table. (You may have seen these before, at the end of the Elements as Atoms discussion.)

The rows of the table correspond to the primary energy levels...

1
1
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...and there are four main "blocks" in the table that go with the four sublevels:

s s
s s p p p p p p
s s p p p p p p
s s d d d d d d d d d d p p p p p p
s s d d d d d d d d d d p p p p p p
s s d d d d d d d d d d p p p p p p
s s
f f f f f f f f f f f f f f
f f f f f f f f f f f f f f

But that's not it, in the sense that we're far from having said everything there is to say about atoms, or about chemistry, or even about the periodic table. Though the table always has the same basic layout, there are other versions out there that provide more and different information than our applet does; I particularly recommend the WebElements table.
We have discussed in some detail how electron configurations determine the chemical properties of elements; if you'd like to know more about why electrons configure themselves the way they do, see the Elements as Atoms section. What we haven't discussed are the nuclei of atoms: what about the protons and neutrons? Studying them will reveal the secrets of nuclear energy, fusion and fission, and will even shed some light on the question of where the heavy elements came from in the first place.



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