And onwards! Some time ago, I wrote a post on why electrons are smarter than humans. Today, I'm going to use a similar analogy to teach even science-blind people (who are still awesome, btw) the basics of chemistry, and entertain fellow science nerds.
1. Protons are greedy people.
|Fig. 1: An atom.|
The neutrons are very lazy and don't do anything—they're dead weight. Protons contribute to both the charge (greediness) and the mass, where neutrons contribute to only the mass.
The gold trails are the orbitals, with the green money as electrons. As you can imagine, money and greed will attract each other, so electrons are negatively charged and attract protons.
The electrons, or money, are stored in 'purses' of eight coins/electrons, also called electron shells. (Actually, the nth electron shell can hold 2*n^2 electrons but prefer to hold 2 or 8.) You will learn in higher level chemistry that these purses are further subdivided, but that's okay. You don't care yet.
So far: greedy protons, money electrons, and purses to hold them. Good so far?
2. Atoms like full purses.
I mean, we did assume its protons were greedy. But they don't neccesarily want more money, they want full purses. Remember, they have purses that can normally hold 8 coins. But they just can't toss the money on the streets. It's just not allowed. There are two possible situations:
There is one atom which has $7 and another which has $17. If atoms were as weird as people, they'd try to steal all of the other atom's money. Instead, the $17 atom will donate $1 to the $7 atom, hence one of them now has $8 and the other has $16. Now everyone's happy! This is called an ionic bond.
A more complicated scenario is when we have two atoms with $7. Now, you'd think there's no way around it, but protons are creative. What they'll do is sit down around a table and each put $1 on there. So the table has $2 and they have $6 in their purse. Now the protons count their money ... 6 in the pocket, 2 on the desk! Voilà! This is why it's so difficult to engineer atomic bombs; atoms just don't like to fight, okay?
3. I lied. Atoms fight all the time.
Unfortunately, atom fights are like monopoly. There's always that one person who wins and becomes RICHER THAN THE BANK. (Seriously. That happens to me all the time.)
Ahem! As I was saying, all atoms are equal, but some atoms are more equal than others. They have more protons and hence are stronger and greedier; scientists like to call them highly electronegative. A measure of how greedy atoms are is called electronegativity.
Whichever atom is greedier, or more electronegative, can pull the money-electrons on the table (or in a covalent bond) towards itself. The table isn't just a dot; it's at least 1D, or a line, so the electrons can be closer to the greedier atom, which becomes more negatively charged as its greed is satisfied.
Any non-sciency people feel more confident? Any other analogies to contribute?
Takeout isn't funny enough these days. For more humourous takeout like this post, let me write monthly letters to you!