Why, at the ripe old age of 78, do I finally love and desperately want to get to know The Periodic Table of the Elements?

Why, indeed, good question!  I don’t know exactly, but it goes back to the feeling I first expressed in my book on OSAU #OSAUIA. I feel have been guided by a rainbow and by the very atoms that have me building their nuclear models with ping-pong balls!  Okay, I know that sounds crazy, but here’s the thing.  If atoms are the self-assembling builders of Our Universe and, surely, that’s the case, shouldn’t we all want to get to know them by name and get to know a little something, or maybe, even, a lot of something, about each one of them? I know I do. So, here goes, better late than never, right?

Starting with hydrogen and the alkali metals, the first column and group in the table, i.e., the goup I spent a lot of time writing about in my first book on OSAU, we have hydrogen, lithium, sodium, potassium, rubidium, cesium and francium.  So far so good.  We know the first names of seven of the builders, and we know a little about each one. Also, we have our first clue as to why the periodic table is constructed the way it is.

I’m a biochemist but my background in inorganic chemistry sucks.  I made A’s in chemistry but I don’t remember spending any time with the periodic table.  It was just a list of the elements that was put together in some way that made inorganic chemists happy.  Ah, but now I see that it is REALLY important.  The table says a lot about the functions of the atoms and the way that our universe uses them to assemble itself!

In the first column of the table, where we see a listing of hydrogen and the alkali metals, we get to see that each of the atoms with one electron in their outermost shell can all behave in a similar way!  For example, the metals will each violently explode when their pure metallic forms are thrown into water!  And if you have not yet seen this, please take a look at these explostions on YouTube.com. All of the alkali metals appear to make water boil, catch fire and explode! But, especially, you will  want to see what cesium does to a bathtub!  So, yes the periodic table can be very exciting and important to get to know, but it does obscure what appears to be an important, ingenious simplicity.  That is, it obscures the “one, two, three” method by which the elements have been assembled, to whit, the first element is hydrogen.  It has one proton.  The second element is helium.  It has two protons.  The third element is lithium.  It has three protons, etc., etc., etc.  And that’s the “simple”, ingenious way in which all of the elements have been assembled.  But try to see that in the periodic table. It’s not so obvious is it? And it leaves us with a question.  Why does the table look the way it does?  Anyway, a more useful way to see the simple pattern is just to list the elements by proton count.  In other words let’s, first, just list them by what the chemists refer to as the atomic number.

 

 

 

 

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