This week I decided to put up a post about the elements of chemistry. We’ve all seen it. The massive chart with a bunch of random number and letter squeezed together in tight blocks. It’s the periodic table, which is made up of 103 elements.
Many of these blocks include elements that a majority of us are familiar with, such elements as gold, silver, copper, oxygen and many more. The basic way to read these blocks individually can be pretty overwhelming. There is so much to an element that can be fit in one tiny block, so it’s hard to mix up numbers. For example, Nitrogen:
To begin, Nitrogen can be identified as the seventh element on the table. And the way an elements number is established on the chart is based on the atomic number. In this case, nitrogen has 7 protons and 7 electrons whereas its neighbor, oxygen, has 8 protons and 8 electrons, making oxygen follow after nitrogen. You can find the number it is by looking at the top left hand corner of the block. Then centered, written is the abbreviation for the element in bold letters. And then finally at the bottom of the block is the atomic mass, just telling us how much this element weighs.
Even though some elements are included on the chart, some don’t exist in or on our planet earth. This table based on the elements known to mankind, however, there are a few at the bottom that a father of chemistry, Dimitri Medeleev, predicted would exist. These elements were referred to as ekaboron(Eb), ekaaluminium (Ea), ekamanganese (Em) and ekasilicon (Es). He left holes in the chart where he guessed these unknown elements would lie. Those elements are actually the separate chart beneath the table. The top line in this chart are know as the Lanthanides and the bottom row is referred to as Actinides. These are known as the transition metals and have very low orbitals which is why they are positioned cast away from the other elements. Mendeleev knew these had to exist based on atomic make, however were not discovered until later.
Another way that this chart is also organized is by the different states that these elements can be found in. From the left side of the table to the right, it starts with halogens and slowly turns into the alkali metals. Finally, the last column on the right is referred to as the noble gases. These gases are known to be Helium (He), Neon (Ne), Argon (Ar), Krypton (Kr), Xenon (Xn) and radon (Rn). These different states that elements can be found in are sectioned off by columns throughout the chart. Separated vertically as well and numerically are the different orbitals thats the protons and electrons have around the nucleus. It’s rather hard to explain the nature of the numbering in conjunction with the states of the elements so here’s a picture to better understand:
Thats the basic breakdown to help people understand the periodic table better. It’s really not as confusing as some make it out to be.