I've been studying basic atomic structure-- shells, subshells, orbitals, the four quantum numbers, the periodic table, etc.(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, i.e. mutal repulsion of electrons and attraction by the nucleus. That is, if you made a 3-d computer model of point charges around a larger central opposite 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 quantum numbers n, l, and m? I know the idea of electrons being point charges at determinate locations is completely replaced in quantum mechanics. I'm just wondering if the configurations (again, 1s2, 2s2, 2p6, etc.) are roughly explained as stable 3-d electrostatic arrangements of hypothetical point charges at specific points.

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), 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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# Can electrostatic forces explain electron configurations?

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