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|Topic: Dr. Abram's Electron Theory
William F. Hudgings
Section: Part VIII, List of Atoms
Table of Contents to this Topic
| Variations of the "cloud" experiment and certain other
methods heretofore mentioned have enabled scientists to determine the
mass, size, etc., all known types of atoms -- ninety-two in number.
These have been classified according to their atomic weight, ranging
from hydrogen (the lightest) to uranium (the heaviest), and the
tabulation discloses a remarkable even graduation throughout the list
with only six gaps or breaks in the progression. These gaps evidently
signify that there are six corresponding atomic types somewhere in
nature about us which have not yet been discovered. A complete list of
all known atoms is given below in the order of their weight. The number
preceding the name of each element represents the number of excess
protons in the nucleus (and consequently the number of electrons
rotating around the nucleus), while the abbreviation which follows in
parenthesis is the symbol by which the atom is known in chemistry:
1 Hydrogen (H) 32 Germanium (Ge)
2 HELIUM (He) 33 Arsenic (As)
3 Lithium (Li) 34 Selenium (Se)
4 Beryllium (Be) 35 Bromine (Br)
5 Boron (B) 36 KRYPTON (Kr)
6 Carbon (C) 37 Rubidium (Rb)
7 Nitrogen (N) 38 Strontium (Sr)
8 Oxygen (O) 39 Yttrium (Y)
9 Flourine (Fl) 40 Zirconium (Zr)
10 NEON (Ne) 41 Niobium (Nb)
11 Sodium (Na) 42 Molybdenum (Mo)
12 Magnesium (Mg) 43 ......................
13 Aluminium (Al) 44 Ruthenium (Ru)
14 Silicon (Si) 45 Rhodium (Rh)
15 Phosphorus (P) 46 Palladium (Pd)
16 Sulphur (S) 47 Silver (Ag)
17 Chlorine (Cl) 48 Cadmium (Cd)
18 Argon (A) 49 Indium (In)
19 Potassium (K) 50 Tin (Sn)
20 Calcium (Ca) 51 Antimony (Sb)
21 Scandium (Sc) 52 Tellurium (Te)
22 Titanium (Ti) 53 Iodine (I)
23 Vanadium (V) 54 Xenon (X)
24 Chronium (Cr) 55 Caesium (Cs)
25 Manganese (Mn) 56 Barium (Ba)
26 Iron (Fe) 57 Lanthanum (La)
27 Cobalt (Co) 58 Cerium (Ce)
28 Nickel (Ni) 59 Praseodimium (Pr)
29 Copper (Cu) 60 Neodymium (Nd)
30 Zinc (Zn) 61 .......................
31 Gallium (Ga) 62 Samarium (Sa)
63 Europium (Eu) 78 Platinum (Pt)
64 Gadolinium (Ga) 79 Gold (Au)
65 Terbium (Tb) 80 Mercury (Hg)
66 Dysprosium (Ds) 81 Thallium (Tl)
67 Holmium (Ho) 82 Lead (Pb)
69 Erbium (Er) 83 Bismuth (Bi)
69 Thulium (Tu) 84 Polonium (Po)
70 Yterbium (Yb) 85 ..................
71 Lutecium (Lu) 86 Niton (Nt)
72 ...................... 87.......................
73 Tantalum (Ta) 88 Radium (Ra)
74 Tungsten (W) 89 Actinium (Ac)
75 ...................... 90 Thorium (Th)
76 Osmium (Os) 92 Uranium Xii (Ur Xii)
77 Iridium (Ir) 92 Uranium (Ur)
It is from these ninety two kinds of atoms that all matter of which we have any knowledge is formed. It is a comparatively easy task to chemically analyze a substance and find out exactly what combinations of these known atomic "elements" go to form its molecules. The molecules of pure water, as every schoolboy knows, consist of two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen. Common salt, chemically known as Sodium Chloride, is composed of sodium and chlorine atoms in equal parts. That is, one each of these two kinds of atoms is found in each salt molecule. Nearly every substance with which we to do in daily life is a combination of different types of atoms; yet some common substances are wholly elementary, as for instance, gold, silver, copper, nickel, iron, tin, lead, etc., as will be observed from the foregoing atomic list. Even these, however, are seldom seen in their pure state, unmixed with alloy of some kind.
Although there are ninety-two places in the aforementioned tabulation of atoms, it will be noted that six of these are blank, viz., Nos. 43, 61, 72, 75, 85, and 87. This means there are actually only eighty-six "elements" thus far discovered; although if nature preserves the perfect graduation in atomic weights, from the lightest to the heaviest, she must have produced atomic types corresponding to these six missing numbers. No doubt such atoms do exist somewhere in the earth, and eventually they may be discovered.* Like some others which have more recently come to light, they doubtless will be found to belong to some very rare substances, probably buried far below the earth's surface where man has not yet penetrated. Certain other types of atoms were discovered subsequent to their theoretical classification and were found to fill the positions assigned to them in the chemical table. As soon as these six missing types are located another chapter in the great book of nature may then be closed.
It is within the realm of possibility, of course, that some atomic type or types heavier than uranium may yet be discovered, although many physicists consider this very unlikely even as they do not expect to ever find an atom lighter than hydrogen. The hydrogen atom, consisting as it undoubtedly does of only one electron and one proton, has ever maintained its position at unity in the atomic family, and still maintains it in this day of the most extended and thorough physical research work of the world's history. Uranium likewise defies all competition at the other end of the scale.
Uranium was the first radioactive substance ever discovered, and that epoch-making revelation happened only three years before the dawn of the twentieth century. There is evidence that it is in fact the parent of all the highly radioactive atoms; that is, that all the "elements" from 91 back to 82 in the foregoing atomic table are really uranium disintegrations. It is therefore believed that in the course of time all uranium, thorium, actinium, radium, niton, polonium and bismuth (as well as the two missing types which precede and follow niton) will disintegrate into lead, and that these seven atomic types are but characteristic steps in the slow, disintegrating process. Absolute proof of this, however, is admittedly lacking.
With the exception of hydrogen and helium it is not definitely known what the total number of protons and electrons in the nucleus of any given atomic system might be; but as we have seen, it is the excess protons in the nucleus that determine the number of planetary electrons in a system (and therefore the atomic weight), and this knowledge we do possess. Furthermore, the affinity which certain types of atoms have for those of other types, which results in the formation of molecules, furnishes the modern chemist with much valuable information as to the arrangement of the planetary electrons around the nuclei of their respective systems. Some atoms are electropositive, some are electronegative, while others are self satisfied having neither positive or negative valence. Such atoms are said to be inert. There are altogether six inert atomic systems, and these we have distinguished in the foregoing tabulation by setting them in caps, viz.,
(2) HELIUM having 2 planetary electrons
(10) NEON " 10 " "
(18) ARGON " 18 " "
(36) KRYPTON " 36 " "
(54) XENON " 54 " "
(86) NITON " 86 " "
What causes one atomic type to react negatively and another positively? Why are the six inert atoms different from all others in this respect, being in what may be called a self-satisfied condition? Any theory that furnishes a plausible answer to these questions without conflicting with any known fact is worthy of consideration. The Rutherford-Soddy atomic models do provide a reasonable explanation of such phenomena. Their hypothesis arranges the planetary electrons in concentric rings, or rather concentric shells, inasmuch as they are distributed on all sides of the nucleus like the cover of a baseball instead of having orbits parallel to each other like the successive bands of Saturn. These "shells" of electrons revolve at relatively great distances from the nucleus and also from each other (with certain exceptions hereinafter described). Except for hydrogen, all atomic systems have at least one ring or shell of planetary electrons around the nuclei. The hydrogen atom, being composed of one electron and one proton, might be said to have no nucleus, each charge being in planetary rotation around the other like a swinging dumbbell. This unsymmetrical configuration of the atom is believed to account for the extreme activity of hydrogen gas in chemistry.
Helium, the second lightest atom, is an inert system. Why? This is accounted for by the natural assumption that its two planetary electrons revolve on diametrically opposite sides of the nucleus which would insure perfect balance and electrical stability. Its nucleus consists of four protons and two electrons, being identically the same formation as an alpha particle emitted by radium and other highly radioactive substances. Even as the two nuclear electrons serve to stabilize the four protons, so do the two external electrons, pulling against each other on opposite sides of the nucleus, tend to perfect the stability of the entire system. Hence the helium atom is inert.
It is believed that there are never more than two planetary electrons in the first shell of any system, and that for all atoms which possess more than two external electrons there must be additional shells. The six-inert atoms, therefore, are those which have all of their shells exactly filled, whereas all other atoms have their outer shell only partially filled and consequently they react positively or negatively depending upon how nearly filled or how nearly empty this outer shell my be. When each shell is symmetrically filled with electrons the atom is then in a satisfied or inert state and will not seek to join in molecular union with any other atom for the purpose of attaining further satisfaction, although an unsatisfied system may seize an inert atom and hold it in a molecular embrace in its craving for one or more of the electrons with which the inert system is so abundantly blessed.
Neon, with its ten planetary electrons, is the second inert system. It must, therefore, possess two completely filled shells. If it has two electrons in its first shell, then its second shell must have a capacity of eight. This is entirely reasonable; because if the second shell is the same distance from the first one as the first is from the nucleus, then it would have exactly four times the area of the first and could consequently accommodate four times as many electrons, namely eight. Thus the inertness of this ten-planetary system is accounted for. Atoms possessing over ten external electrons must have more than two shells.
Argon is the third inert atomic system. It has eighteen planetary electrons, i e., two in the first shell, eight in the second and also eight in the third. Hence the third cannot be situated at a distance from the first, otherwise its area would be greater and its capacity more. The fact that it contains the same number of electrons as does the second shell suggest the logical conclusion that it must be practically coincident with the second, or superimposed upon it in lock-joint fashion with no spatial partition between the two.
Krypton, the fourth inert atom, possesses thirty-six planetary electrons. If it has two in its first shell, eight in the second and eight in the third, then it must have eighteen in its fourth shell. This would indicate that it is located exactly as far from the second and third shells as they are from the first. In other words, its diameter is three times that of the first shell, which gives it nine times the area and consequently nine times the number of electrons of the first shell, which would be eighteen. This makes a total of thirty-six for the fourth shell, the location, area and capacity of the first three being identical with that of the preceding inert system (argon), while the fourth shell is also spaced in perfect symmetry with the other three.
The fifth inert atom is xenon. It has fifty-four planetary electrons, which is just eighteen more than is possessed by krypton, the fourth inert system. Thus the outer upon the fourth because they each contain eighteen electrons. The arrangement of the fourth and fifth shells is therefore evidently identical with that of the second and third already considered, the electrons being paired or interlocked in each case. The sixth shell, however, is a little distance removed from the fifth, because niton (the sixth inert atom) possesses eighty-six external electrons, which is thirty-two more than the fifth inert type. Inasmuch as niton's sixth or outer shell, therefore, has a capacity for thirty-two electrons while the fifth shell contains only eighteen, it must have a somewhat larger diameter in order to possess the necessary area.
As for the systems above niton, which possess more than eighty-six electrons; these atoms must have a seventh shell which is superimposed upon the sixth. There is no atomic system which has this seventh shell filled, however, because that would require at least as many electrons as there are in the sixth shell, viz., thirty-two. This would make a total of 118 external electrons for such an atom, whereas the heaviest atom known is uranium, and it possesses only 92. This leaves only six electrons for its seventh or final shell, and it is therefore an unsatisfied system.
From the foregoing descriptions of the inert systems it is seen that more than mere quantitative balance between protons and electrons is necessary in order to make an atom "satisfied." Each of the ninety-two types of atoms is numerically balanced in positive and negative charges, having exactly as many planetary electrons as there are excess protons in the nucleus. But if their configuration around the nucleus is such as to leave an outer shell only partially filled, then the system is in an unsatisfied condition so far as valence is concerned and will seek satisfaction by embracing certain other atoms with which it may come in contact; thus molecules are formed. Now if such molecular systems are later broken up, as may be done by various laboratory methods, the atom of the aggregation which is the least satisfied often deliberately steals an electron from one of its erstwhile partners which is better able to part with it. This is easily demonstrated by laboratory experiments.
The atomic systems just below and just above an inert system have, respectively, a positive and a negative valence of one; as, for instance, fluorine and sodium, which occupy positions on opposite sides of the inert atom neon. Fluorine lacks one negative electron in its outer shell and therefore craves one negative charge, while sodium has one electron more than enough to fill its second shell and has therefore started a third shell with only one electron therein. Now there are two methods open to the sodium atom to obtain satisfaction: (1) by gaining seven additional electrons so as to complete its third shell, or (2) by relinquishing its one extra electrons and thus leaving it with only two full shells, same as neon. It is at once apparent that the latter method would be the easier of the two. Accordingly it is found by experiment that the sodium atom will readily part with one electron, and because of this disposition on its part it is said to have a positive valence of one. Magnesium is found to have a positive valence of two, and aluminium three. That is, they have this many electrons in their outer shells which they will readily part with in order to attain a satisfied state.