Frequently Asked Questions About the Periodic Table

1. What is the Periodic Table?

The periodic table is a graphic representation of the Periodic Law which which makes it possible to identify families and periods of elements.

2. What is the Periodic Law?

The Periodic Law is what shows the regularities of the properties of the elements of the periodic table.

3. What is an element?

An element is made of one or more atoms of that element. Elements cannot be broken down into simpler substances but can combine to form compounds.

4. What are the types of elements?

There are three types: metals, metalloids, and nonmetals. Metals can be pounded into thin sheets and drawn into thin wires fairly easily, conduct electricity really well, are shiny, and make up the majority of the periodic table and are located in the center and the left of the periodic table. Nonmetals cannot be drawn into wire or pounded into sheets, are not shiny, are brittle, poorly conduct electricity, and are located in the right on the periodic table. Metalloids have both metallic and nonmetallic properties. They can somewhat be pounded into sheets and drawn into wire, may be brittle, are somewhat shiny, can somewhat conduct electricity and are located between metals and nonmetals on the periodic table.

5. What is radioactivity?

When an element is radioactive, it is not stable. It decays, breaks up, and releases particles which are called radiation. They types of particles are alpha, beta and gamma. Gamma radiation is the most powerful of the three and can cause cancer. Many radioactive elements, especially the superheavy elements, occur in one form for as little as microseconds before decaying. Many elements decay several time, becoming different elements when losing protons, before stopping at a stable form. Most isotopes of elements are radioactive. For example, carbon is regulairly a stable element, but one of its isotopes, carbon-14, is radioactive.

6. What is an isotope?

An isotope is a form of an element that has the same number of protons but a different number of neutrons.

7. What is an atom?

Atoms are the building blocks of all matter. An atom contains two parts, the electron cloud which makes up the majority of an atom's volume and is the outermost layer, and the nucleus, the core of the atom which makes up the majority of the atom's mass. The electron cloud contains electrons which fly around the nucleus at different energy levels. The electrons in the outer electron layer are called the valence electrons. The nucleus contains protons and neutrons. Protons determine what element it is. For example, hydrogen atoms contain only 1 proton. Neutrons determine what isotope, or form, the element is. The neutrons determine what isotope the element is in. Regulairly, the number of electrons equal the number of protons. If the number of electrons is changed, then the atom is called an ion. If there are more electrons, then the ion is negative. If the number of electrons is decreased, then the ion is positive.

8. What is a molecule?

Molecules are two or more atoms bonded together to form a different substance through a chemical change or a chemical reaction. The types of bonding are covalent, ionic, and metallic. In a covalent bond, two or more atoms share their valence electrons. Ionic bonds occur between ions and are very weak. Metallic bonds are very strong and occur mainly in metals. In a metallic bond, all of the electrons flow within the substance. This is why metals conduct electricity so well. Electricity is just the flow of electrons.