Atoms, Quantum Mechanics, and the Periodic Table
May 26, 2016
Did you know that the popular picture of an atom as a miniature solar system has been known to be incorrect for almost a century? Did you also know that the theory that correctly describes the properties of atoms—quantum mechanics—makes the modern scientific and technological world possible? This class introduces quantum mechanics (QM) in a context that is more practical and understandable than what is typically presented in popularizations of science. In this class we will see how QM integrates discoveries in chemistry in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and explains the properties of elements and the structure of the periodic table. We will also look at how modern experimental methods illustrate principles of QM through images of atoms, molecules, and their associated electron clouds. This class covers material that will interest both beginners and those with more advanced knowledge of science.