The Magnificent Electron

Any student in a basic chemistry class can tell you that the electron is the fundamental cause of all that happens in chemistry. Atoms join to other atoms to make molecules by exchanging or by sharing electrons. The properties of every element in the natural world are determined by how its electrons are arranged around the nucleus.

Historically, science discovered first that electrons revolve around the nucleus in certain energy shells, and different numbers of electrons are found in each shell--two in the first shell, eight in the second, ten in the third, and so forth. Later it was discovered that not all of these electrons travel in the same pattern. The first energy shell with two electrons in it had its electrons revolving in spherical shells, but the second energy shell with six electrons in it traveled in a dumbbell pattern, with each pair of electrons making a figure eight at right angles to the other two pairs (see figure on next page). Electrons further out from the nucleus had even more complicated rotations around the nucleus.

All of this may sound like unnecessary complexity done to drive chemistry students to frustration, but it is this design of the electron structure that allows water and life to exist. Oxygen has two spherical shells of electrons near its nucleus, but in its second energy level which can hold six electrons, there are only four. The design of the energy shell leaves room for two electrons at positions z and y in the drawing. These two openings are 90° apart, so when hydrogen is added to the oxygen to make water there are two hydrogen atoms added--one at z and one at y and they are 90° apart. The hydrogen atoms repel each other making the angle 105°, but it is this design that gives water its unusual properties (dissolving salts, freezing from the top down, etc.).

Carbon is even more complicated because it has two electrons in its second energy shell and actually uses both its spherical energy shell and its dumbbell shaped shell to make molecules. There is an almost infinite number of ways that this can be done, resulting in enormous numbers of carbon compounds--allowing life of all kinds to exist.

The incredible complexity and wisdom of this design defies any chance explanation. The mass, charge, magnetic properties, and spin of electrons is what allows us to have computers and electrical devices. Even light itself is created by changes in the momentum of electrons. They are truly one of God's most magnificent creations.

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