History of Science Journalism

Science in Slippers

Image Description
Fernand Seguin and Marc Favreau seated, facing each other, behind a counter. There are scientific instruments behind them to show that they are in a laboratory. Fernand Seguin and Marc Favreau seated, facing each other, behind a counter. There are scientific instruments behind them to show that they are in a laboratory.
Fernand Seguin : Good... Well to answer your question, I can say that generally speaking the reason why two substances would enter into a chemical reaction,
is that they feel the need to give or receive electrons, if I might attribute sentiment to atoms.
We have already seen, from an electronic perspective, that the peripheral layer of atoms is composed of electrons in numbers varying from one to eight.
So, some atoms have 1, while others have 2, 3, 4, et cetera.
Yet, it would seem that the number 8, or 8 electrons in the peripheral layer represents a great state of stability and that atoms with 8 electrons on their surfaces never enter into chemical reactions.
This is the case with rare gases. But atoms with fewer that 8 elections will seek to lose or gain electrons, which explains chemical reactions.
I will demonstrates through an example.
Mr. Seguin conducts a demonstration using coins and pieces of cardboard.
Here are some quarters representing electrons. If you would like to model sodium for me, with only the peripheral layers with 8 circling electrons and one lone electron at the outer layer.
For chlorine there are 8, on then 7 at the outer layer.
Bon... Alors, le sodium qui a seulement un électron à la périphérie, il a tendance à le perdre parce qu’à ce moment-là, sa couche périphérique serait de 8 électrons et le chlore, qui a 7 électrons à la périphérie, a tendance à gagner un électron parce que ça lui en fera 8 à la périphérie.
So, when chlorine and sodium are combined, they react.
In that sodium loses one electron and chlorine gains one electron.
This is because they tend to combine together and because one wants to lose an electron and the other wants to gain an electron.
So this is the fundamental mechanism behind chemical reactions.
Marc Favreau : Well! This is very interesting! I think that I am going to practice at home with your electrons.
FS : Euh... You won't succeed!
MF : Why not?
FS : Well, you see, these are silver electrons ad they won't work with sodium.
(laughter)
End text: Some special instruments were supplied by
W.M. WELCH MANUFACTURING CO. LTD of Chicago