Near Twins and Black Sheep: The Genealogy of Elements
By: Kendra Perry
In the book "The Disappearing Spoon", chapter two talks about the connections and various differences between the three following elements, Carbon, Silicon, and Germanium. Carbon is a non metal that forms on the backbones of Amino acids. Amino acids tend to stick together because of Carbons particular place on the periodic table. Carbon has a need to fill its outer energy level with 8 electrons. This chemical rule of thumb is called the “Octet Rule”. Carbon can not steal electrons from other atoms , which means the bond it shares tend to be very steady and stable. Proteins arise and these connectable carbons and nitrogens are strung along ,like letters in a ridiculously long word (pg35,chp 2).
Just like a family tree, elements have more in common with the elements below it than the elements beside of it. Which brings us to the next element, Silicon. Silicon is cousin to carbon and silicon sits one space below carbon. Silicon has an atomic number of 14 and Carbon has an atomic number of 6, which makes the two elements have a gap of exactly 8 between their atomic numbers. Both Silicon and Carbon are looking for 4 more electrons to fill their outer energy levels. Silicon's ability to mimic Carbon has made it the dream to create an alternative to carbon based life form (pg 36,Chp 2). Moving one space down from Silicon, we find Germanium. Germanium is known as the “ Black Sheep” element. Germanium and Silicon are both responsible for modern electronics, they both played very different roles in the designing process. Germanium is possibly known as the “Black Sheep” element because it was constantly replaced, and does not play quite as a vital role on earth like Silicon and carbon does.
Electron Configuration: 1s2 2s2 2p2
Classification : Non Metal
Electron Configuration: 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p2
Classification : Metalloid
Electron Configuration: 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 4s2 3d10 4p2
Classification : Metalloid
Why is Carbon important?
What is Silicon?
What is Silicon used for?
Why is Germanium important?
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Roayl Society of Chemistry (2014) Periodic Table Germanium. Retrieved from http://www.rsc.org/periodic-table/element/32/germanium
Royal Society of Chemistry (2014) Periodic Table Silicon. Retrieved from http://www.rsc.org/periodic-table/element/14/silicon