Paradox Lost pp 113-117 | Cite as

Chemists, Pictures, and Molecular Architecture

  • Philip R. Wallace


Macroscopic matter, whether solid, liquid, or gas, consists of atoms or molecules. The structure of molecules depends critically on the energy states of the atoms of which they are constructed, always governed by the two principles enunciated in the previous chapter. The geometrical forms of the wave functions involved in the binding of atoms enable us to picture the molecules. To illustrate this point, we discuss the ten elements in the first row of the periodic table, from hydrogen to neon, showing how their binding properties (valences) depend on the energies and shapes of their wave functions. The images invoked depend on viewing the wave functions as charge clouds of very specific geometrical forms. From them, we can deduce the shapes of molecules. In certain cases, we see that the bonds permit certain aggregations of atoms to fit together in such a way as to produce large molecules. Carbon atoms are especially adapted for this purpose, so that an almost infinite number of complex molecules can be produced; DNA is a dramatic example. Carbon is the basis for organic chemistry. Molecules may grow in size indefinitely, to produce solid macroscopic crystals.


Wave Function Helium Atom Valence Bond Molecular Architecture Extra Electron 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip R. Wallace
    • 1
  1. 1.McGill UniversityVictoriaCanada

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