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Aufbau Principle

Describes electron configuration within an atom.

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Who's Got the Pole?

Who's Got the Pole?

Credit: Christopher Page
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/elbiffster/3759577709/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

The cars slowly drive around the oval track, lined up two by two. They maintain their positions as they approach the starting line, but begin to pick up speed. The pace car pulls off the track, the starter’s flag is waved, the engines roar and they’re off!

Why It Matters

  • NASCAR (the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) is a group that organizes and puts on stock car races in the United States. There are several classifications of races including the well-known big engine stock car races, smaller sprint cars, and trucks. Although not the most popular sport in the U.S. (it ranks behind pro football, baseball and basketball), there are millions of avid fans that fill race track stands, watch on television, and purchase merchandise related to their favorite drivers.
  • Car positions for a race are determined by the performance of the vehicle and driver. The person with the fastest qualifying speed is awarded the pole position (on the inside of the traffic lane at the start line). The next highest qualifier then gets the front row, but on the outside. Arrangement of the rest of the cars follows the same general pattern based on performance, although the specific criteria may vary from race to race. There are always two cars/row in the line-up.
  • The origins of NASCAR racing are somewhat shady. In many areas of the South (and elsewhere), times were tough and money was in short supply. One way many folks survived was to make moonshine whiskey out of their corn crop (or from sugar). The manufacture was not specifically legal (except during Prohibition years), but the producers did not pay the federal taxes levied on alcoholic beverages. So, federal agents would chase the moonshiners who were out delivering their wares. Roads were not good, many were dirt or gravel, and they were very windy in the mountains (the main highways in many parts of western North Carolina today have numerous tight turns as you drive up and down the mountains). One thing led to another and NASCAR racing was developed, with many former moonshiners involved as drivers and mechanics.
  • Credit: Ted Van Pelt
    Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28914673@N02/2779317549
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Junior Johnson, seen here in 1985, was a popular NASCAR driver from the 1950s who began as a bootlegging driver from Wilkes County, North Carolina [Figure2]

  • Watch a video of the start of a NASCAR race at the link below:


Can You Apply It?

Use the links below to learn more about electron distribution and NASCAR racing. Then answer the following questions.

  1. Does the 3d level fill before or after the 4s level?
  2. If two electrons are in an orbital, what must happen?
  3. Does Hund’s rule match the way NASCAR fills rows on the starting grid?
  4. What moonshiner was one of the first people inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame?
  5. When was the first NASCAR meeting held?

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    Image Attributions

    1. [1]^ Credit: Christopher Page; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/elbiffster/3759577709/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
    2. [2]^ Credit: Ted Van Pelt; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28914673@N02/2779317549; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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