What happens if an atom's electronic configuration remains unstable? So we know atoms react with each other to share or transfer electrons, causing them to bond. It's in their nature to do so; if they do not, they'll remain unstable (apart from some Noble gases which are already stable). What is there is no other element present, or no activation energy to allow an element to react? Those atoms will remain electronically unstable. When a nucleus is unstable due to too many neutrons, radiation is emitted until the element reaches a stable state, Lead (Pb). What about when the valence shell of an atom isn't full but the nucleus is stable, what will happen to the 'unstable' atom over a long period of time? Is the atom actually unstable in any way, or is it just called "unstable" with nothing really wrong with it? Thank you.