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Resolution of electron orbitals

  1. Aug 11, 2010 #1

    I have developed a model that demonstrates the filling of atomic orbitals but need some 'constructive' criticism on its content. How do I go about that? I currently have it in a pdf format. Can anyone help?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 11, 2010 #2


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    Well, I might be willing to look at it. But could you first elaborate on what you've done?
    When you say "a model that demonstrates the filling of atomic orbitals", do you mean:

    - A straightforward visual demonstration of the order in which orbitals are filled as you descend the periodic table
    - A physical model that correctly reproduces the orbital sequence of atoms
    - A heuristic or 'rule' which empirically describes the orbital filling, akin to Madelung's rule.
  4. Aug 12, 2010 #3
    Hi alxm,
    All three. It also gives physical meaning to the quantum numbers used in representing the orbitals, shows why certain orbitals fill before others, and is wholly conducive with the charge density distributions of the orbitals of electrons around the nucleus.
    For the 'out-of-the-box' thinking physicist it says a lot more (like the influence of changing magnetic fields on the electron), but for general usage I believe it would be a great tool.

  5. Aug 12, 2010 #4


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    That's all I need to know, thanks. I'm not interested.
  6. Aug 12, 2010 #5
    Ooooh......alxm........you are a tease.

    I over-pitched it didn't I?....it was just too good to be true.....ergo it could not be.

    I mean....I started out under-pitching it, but you drew me out.......cheeky:wink:

    Never mind. Fortunately it's strength does not lie in my ability to sell it. Or yours to buy it. But it's ability to make 'see-able' that which up to now has remained unseen. The offer of constructive criticism remains.

    Everything you need to know about electron orbitals, pictorially, on a single sheet of A4. That can't be right....can it?

    "All that you know...is at an end" The Silver Surfer
  7. Aug 12, 2010 #6


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    It's not a matter of over or under-selling it. It's that your answers are sufficient to tell me that you don't know enough about the subject for it to be likely that you've made a worthwhile contribution. You write, for instance that your model "gives physical meaning to the quantum numbers used in representing the orbitals". Well, there's no mystery whatsoever about what their meaning is, and hasn't been since the 1920's. I'd expect any undergraduate student in physical chemistry or chemical physics to be able to explain it on an exam.

    This tells me that either your knowledge of basic QM is lacking and/or your model isn't quantum mechanical. If it's not quantum mechanical, it doesn't work unless you invented some hitherto-unknown force of nature. If it's only semiclassical, I'd have expected you to say something about how it differs from existing semiclassical models (the few which exist). But you can't say anything about orbitals using a semiclassical model. Orbitals are a purely quantum mechanical description. (Although a quantum mechanical description does not require orbitals. In one sense, they simply don't exist in reality)

    I don't see what the issue is with making them 'seeable'. There's quite a lot of visualization software for orbitals out there. Just look in any recent issue of, say, JACS or J Phys Chem and you'll find pictures of orbitals.

    Quantum mechanics (without which you don't have orbitals to begin with), already explains all of what you purport to explain, and you didn't say anything about how your model relates to it. That indicates you're not acquainted with what's already known, which means you're not likely to be contributing anything to the existing knowledge.

    Bottom line is that you don't need to 'sell' it in terms of telling me the wonderful things your model purports to do. You need to convince me you know the subject. Even if your model doesn't use quantum mechanics, I would still expect you to know how the QM description works and immediately be prepared to explain how you're justified in not using it. If your model is trivial or fundamentally flawed, then there's nothing constructive I could say, short of 'learn the subject'. And I certainly don't have time or energy to be anyone's personal tutor.

    I'm a quantum chemist, I've got a whole office full of books on orbitals and related topics, and there are hundreds of other quantum chemists in the world. I don't think any of us could condense everything you need to know about orbitals to a single A4. Or a 60 volume book for that matter. And there is a 60-volume book on the topic: "Advances in quantum chemistry".
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