Tuesday, 10 March 2009

S205: Book 9 - Elements of the p-block

Oh no -its another vast book - 242 pages about lots of stuff - its information overload, and I'm not really sure what you are suppose to take away from this book. There seems far too much to learn, so in the end I just end up reading the book and hoping some of the concepts sink in ... hummm.

It starts off of, by looking at oxidation states and how you can work them out from various rules. That's not too bad.
The next chapter starts to look at acids and bases, and in particular extends the definition to Brønsted acids - which are compounds that can donate a proton or hydrogen ion.
So having just got the idea of a new type of acid, we have another new type in the next chapter - the Lewis acid. This is a substance that can donate a pair of electrons. Okkkayyy - just about getting that.

Next chapter is all about the chemistry of hydrogen - what it can do and how it can form hydrides and things like that. I'm sure there is some general message here but it seems like just a large number of different reactions.
Next we look at halides, and all manner of ways that the halogens can form compounds. Again a confusing number of different reactions.
After that - a real walk on the wild side as we look at those most unreactive of elements, the noble gases and the various compounds they can form. Its a bit like being told there is no Santa Claus that compounds of the noble gases can form compounds. I mean - the one thing you generally learn in chemistry is that compounds struggle to form bonds to make noble gas like electron shells. Then along comes xenon, and starts disrupting these well rehearsed truths.

After a brief foray into some trends in second and third row elements (which is also covered - better for me - in a dvd accompanying the book), we launch into group 3. Boron, aluminium and so on. Boron is plain weird, it eschews the eightfold way and is happy to make compounds with only a shell of 6 electrons. Its all rather disconcerting.

Then its time to look at group 4. Carbon, silicon and their ilk. It seems we've been doing precious little other than looking at carbon for most of this course, but here it is again.
Follow this up with a look at group 5 nitrogen, and phosphorous, and all they can do. Then its on to oxgen, sulphur and its pals.
Finally another look at trends and the book is done, except for a case study look at acid rain.

So much information, so many reactions - my head is spinning. How can anyone possibly remember a 10th of this stuff.

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