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The New Quantum Universe, Second Edition by Patrick Walters, Tony Hey

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6 Pauli and the elements

It is the fact that the electrons cannot all get on top of each other that makes tables and everything else solid.

Richard Feynman

Electron spin and Pauli’s exclusion principle

Over a century ago, a Russian chemist, Dimitri Mendeleev, invented a teaching-aid for students struggling with inorganic chemistry. He realized that the properties of the 63 elements then known were repeated ‘periodically’ as their atomic weight increased. In other words, elements with similar chemical properties were not close together in mass, but instead were found at regular intervals as the mass increased. For example, lithium has a nucleus with three protons and is an alkali metal – a highly reactive soft silvery substance that forms alkaline ...

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