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Uploaded:2010-01-15
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In which Hank gives you a half a semester of college chemistry in three minutes. If you want to ACTUALLY learn about chemistry, you should take a class, because it's fascinating stuff.
Good morning, John! In this video, I kind of want to give you a half a semester of college-level chemistry and I only have four minutes to do it, so I'm gonna get started.

Everything in the world is made up of atoms. Atoms are very small. Atoms have protons and neutrons in their nucleus and electrons orbiting those protons and neutrons. The number of protons in an atom tells you what kind of atom it is, by which I mean what element that atom is. Protons are positively charged and electrons are negatively charged. By definition, atoms have no charge, so if they have 14 protons, they have 14 electrons. If they have a different number of protons and electrons, then they're an ion, not an atom. The number of neutrons in an atom can vary, not just element by element, but individual atom by atom of the same element. That's enough about protons and neutrons. Let's talk about electrons.

Electrons orbit the nucleus of an atom in specific orbitals and electron orbitals really like to be full. Orbitals come in four basic flavors: S, P, D, and F. S orbitals contain 2 electrons, P orbitals can contain up to 6, D's 10, and F's 14. Orbitals fill in the following order: S, then S, then P, then S, then P, then D, then S, then P, then D, and then F. So if you have one electron in your atom - if you are hydrogen, for example - then you have one electron in your first S orbital. If you are carbon, then you have 6, so you have two electrons in your first S orbital, two electrons in your second S orbital, and then two electrons in your first P orbital. That is denoted as shown below: 1s^2 2s^2 2p^2. Twopeetwopeetwo.

So basically, carbon is four electrons away from being happy because if electron orbitals aren't full, they're a little bit like Bella without Edward. So how can Bella fill her Edward-shaped hole? I mean, how can carbon get those extra four electrons? Carbon does that pretty much invariably by linking two other atoms. Carbon will then basically share its electrons with other atoms while those other atoms are sharing its electrons with carbon and if it shares with hydrogen, you end up with things like methane, and if it shares with oxygen, you end up with things like carbon dioxide. Oddly enough, those are the two principal greenhouse gases. Bella Swan! Why must you fill your orbitals? 

These kinds of bonds in which orbitals overcome their initial repulsion in order to share electrons and make their orbitals happy are called covalent bonds. Covalent bonds are not the only type of bond. Sodium, for example, only needs to lose one electron in order for its orbitals to be happy. Chlorine, on the other hand, only needs to get one electron in order for its orbitals to be happy. So what happens when chlorine and sodium see each other is instead of sharing an electron, sodium actually gives its electron to chlorine permanently, but then they're so close together that because this is now negatively charged and this is positively charged, they stick together and they make salt. 

When atoms or molecules make or break new covalent or ionic bonds, their properties drastically change. Sodium, on its own for example, explodes when you put it in water, and chlorine obviously, chlorine gas is extremely deadly. But then when you bond them together ionically, they become delicious on food.

Physical changes like melting or freezing or breaking or vaporizing do not change the fundamental properties of the atom or molecule. It's the chemical changes that are really fascinating, and that's what chemistry is about. If we could talk more about chemistry, John, we would talk more in depth about chemical reactions - what kinds of chemical reactions there are and why atoms and molecules like to react in different ways. Unfortunately, we don't have time for that, so you're just going to have to deal with having as much knowledge as you have about chemistry now, which is infinitely more than you had four minutes ago. John, I will see you on Monday.

A quick note: there are three messages that I would like to bring you in this video that do not have anything to do with chemistry.

One: Shawn Ahmed, who is a kickass Nerdfighter who's been doing amazing work in Bangladesh, is one of the five finalists who was picked to possibly go to the World Economic Forum in Davos. Shawn will be representing the cause of global poverty. The amazing power of YouTube and, of course, Nerdfighteria. It would be great if everyone would follow the link in the sidebar and go vote for him.

Two: Obviously, the situation in Haiti is dire and we all need to help in whatever way we can. One really easy way to help is to text HAITI to 90999. This will charge an extra ten dollars to your cell phone bill, which will be donated 100% to the Red Cross mission to help Haiti. If you want to give more than ten dollars, which I hope you do, there's a link to the Red Cross in the sidebar. 

Three: If, after you're done with those things, you still have some more time, my favorite fictional YouTube show, Robot, Ninja, & Gay Guy, has been nominated for a Streamy Award and you can go and vote for that in the sidebar as well. 

That's all. Thank you. Hope you learned something. Bye.