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Electron Configurations

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Electron Garage
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Could a particular car in a parking garage be found the same way the electron of a certain element is indicated in the periodic table?

Credit: Benjamin Lipsman
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/blipsman/7836036184/sizes/o/in/photolist-cWrJy9-a6kZFD-dUBCbg-aaZrjC-8gZto9-7NxFdZ-eaAu7P-bxLrDn-d624aQ-e7Hbub-7Tkp3C-7Tkzou-birfVk-9sy4z1-8ELhbT-858bFu-drDPkv-7Xzz3G-8m23CF-9JroeR-dtYJs1-dtYPuj-bCKwyn-7ySkWv-dhsgpJ-bjV8bo-apG2H8-9Brecb-7DztcS-7DzsLu-cHGj1y-9DmT3d/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

What if the periodic table was a parking garage? [Figure1]

A public parking garage has seven floors of parking, with more sections to park in as you get higher up the levels. Some sections have more parking spaces than others. The garage is filled from bottom to top.

Each parking space gets a designated code to indicate its location and help the driver find their vehicle later on. However, for garage administration to keep track of filled spaces, the code of any later vehicle includes every previously filled section as well.

Creative Applications

1. The garage has four possible sections lettered A, B, C, and D with only the higher parking levels having all four. Recall that the periodic table has a similar concept, but with different letters. What are these four letters?

2. The usual manager of the garage is on vacation and another is subbing in for him. He has the workers direct cars to the 7th floor first and fill the garage going down the levels. Why is this incorrect compared to how electrons fill up the periodic table? Would an electron configuration read in the proper order?

3. An big concert is going to be held soon and the public parking garage is the closest parking area to the stadium. A driver wants to park his car somewhere less busy and skips two floors up from the floor that is currently being filled up. If we assigned his car a configuration, what would be wrong with it? (Think: What rule of electron-filling did he violate?)

4. Generally, it is expected that all drivers fill up parking spaces in floor, section, and space order. However, there is a flaw that causes the last parked car to not be charged if it occupies a particular spot in the garage. This flaw is overcome if a certain previous spot is allowed to be skipped and not parked in. Such exceptions occur in the periodic table. Name a few elements with electron configurations that don't follow normal conventions, and provide those configurations.

5. Why do the exceptions mentioned in the previous question occur?

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