The ways that atoms bond to make molecules, polymers, and metals are as wondrous as the ways that people bond to make friendships, marriages, and communities. The strongest tie happens when one atom gives an electron completely and unconditionally to another. The result is that the giving atom becomes positively charged and the recipient becomes negatively charged, so they become irresistible to each other. This type of bond is called Ionic by chemists and Lifelong Love by Bell Hooks. Once these molecules form, they remain intact and are not available to bond with other molecules.
Another type of bond occurs when atoms simply share a pair of electrons. This means that they have some common platonic interests. If the sharing is equal, the bond is Covalent and if the sharing is unequal, the bond is Polar Covalent.
Bonding gets really interesting when molecules form but they still have some extra electrons, or not enough. This causes them to bond in infinite arrays with other molecules that are seeking or giving electrons. This is how polymers and metals are formed. In the case of polymers, the pattern of electron bonding is rigid and repeating. This is why diamonds are so brittle. In the case of metals, electrons are shared between molecules freely and magnanimously. This is why metals are good conductors.
I have had to re-build many bonds this year. I am happy that that they now know me by name at the post office, bank, and hair salon and that neighbors walk in our kitchen without knocking. However, I am still looking for others that are on an on-line journey to become a teacher and I’ll gladly give an electron or two when I find them.
Next Up: Castles in The Air