From Unclear To Nuclear

Published on Friday, October 18, 2013 in , ,

Kordas' Periodic Table photoLast week, I discussed memorizing the elements on the periodic table.

The big question, of course, is why those elements are important. Since I think understanding is just as important as memorization, I figured it was time to take a closer look at what goes on at the atomic level.

TED-Ed, a learning site from the people who bring you TED Talks, has recently posted several good videos that use animation, metaphors, and other tools that really help make atomic physics much clearer.

The first question is, Just How Small is an Atom?, which is answered below with the help of grapefruits, blueberries, and the Earth:

Now that we have an idea of the scale and density of an atom, what's the deal with those electrons? Surprisingly, The Uncertain Location of Electrons, is a challenging, yet fascinating feature of the atom:

While we can't pin down the electrons, we can define an area where they're 95% likely to be located. Once we know this, we can start getting an idea of How Atoms Bond:

Finally, once we get an understanding of the bonding process, we can further use that knowledge to answer the question, What is the Shape of an Atom?:

For a look at the elements that's just as fun, and may even help explain things deeper, you can also check out my Hunting The Elements post.

For now, though, it's time to journey back to the human scale. Happy atom-smashing!

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