I've been studying basic atomic structure-- shells, subshells, orbitals, the four quantum numbers, the periodic table, etc. This is in a chemistry book, but if my question belongs in the physics forum please let me know.(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

I've seen diagrams of "atomic structure" that show arrangements of electrons: 1s2, 2p2, 2p6 etc. and I understand how the configurations are derived from the quantum numbers. I am curious if the distribution of electrons can be explained in terms of electrostatic forces. That is, if you made a 3-d computer model of point charges around a larger central charge, would you find stable configurations that correspond to anything like the electron configurations you get from the four quantum numbers? I suppose the spin number doesn't fit, but how about n, l, and m?

I hope this question makes sense. What I am really wondering is if atoms can be "explained away" in terms of more basic forces (i.e. electrostatic and strong nuclear to hold the nucleus together), or is an atom more than the sum of its parts, that is, is it something you can't presently derive from more basic physics.

Thanks.

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# Homework Help: Can electrostatic forces explain electron configurations?

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