"Let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my Strength, and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14
Monday, July 14, 2008
Mr. Tompkins in Paperback
A few years ago - okay a great many years ago as a child, maybe a preteen, I read a book by George Gamow called "Mr. Tompkins in Wonderland". It introduced many
chemistry concepts to me. Perhaps it was another of the Mr. Tompkins books. Anyway
the book has recently been reprinted (Mr Tompkins in Paperback) and of course I had
to buy it. I THINK this is where I came up with my concept of the "happy atom" that I have used with many a Chemistry class to try to explain valence electrons and how atoms bond with one another in an ionic bond.
Mr Tompkins, you see, shrinks ala Alice in Wonderland, to Quantum size and explores the atomic world on their level. And everything is wonderfully personal. Electrons that are paired dance happily along.
In the picture I've uploaded from the book Mr Tompkins finds himself in a sodium atom and he realizes quickly he has no one to play with.
"Why haven't I got anyone to play with?" he shouted across.
"Because this is an odd atom, and you are the valency electr-o-o-on...," called
the electron as it turned and plunged back into the dancing crowd.
"Valency electrons live alone or find companions in other atoms," squeaked the high
pitched soprano of another electron rushing past him.
"If you want a partner fair,
Jump into chlorine and find one there,"
chanted another mockingly. (And later he does to form Sodium Chloride - NaCl - salt).
Inbetween chapters of adventure are chapters of science facts (some of which even
I have problems following! Quantum physics is um difficult.).
Great book! I'm glad it's back.
George Gamow was a Russian nuclear physicist who wrote many books - many for
This is published by Cambridge University Press. Foreward by Roger Penrose.