Page:The atomic theory (1914).djvu/32

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The Atomic Theory

of concentric shells. This leads us to the view that the electrons in an atom, if they exceed a certain number, are divided up into groups, into a series of spherical layers, like the coatings of an onion, separated from each other by finite distances, the number of such layers depending upon the number of electrons in the atom, and thus upon its atomic weight.

The electrons in the outside layer will be held in their places less firmly than those in the inner layers; they are more mobile, and will arrange themselves more easily under the forces exerted upon them by other atoms. As the forces which one atom exerts on another depend on the rearrangement of the electrons in the atom, the forces which a neutral atom exerts on other atoms—what we may call the social quantities of the atom—will depend mainly on the outer belt of electrons. Now these forces are the origin of chemical affinity, and of such physical phenomena as surface tension, cohesion, intrinsic pressure, viscosity, ionising power, in fact of by far the most important properties of the atom; and the most interesting part of the atom is the outside belt of electrons. As this belt will be pulled about and distorted by the proximity of other atoms, we should expect that the properties depending on this outer layer of the electrons would not be carried unchanged by an atom through all its compounds with other elements; they will depend upon the kind of atom with which this atom is associated in these compounds; they will be what the chemists call constitutive, and not intrinsic. On the other hand the electrons in the strata nearer the centre of the atom will be much more firmly held; they will require the expenditure of much more work to remove them from the atom, and will be but little affected by the presence of other atoms, so that such properties as