Bederson, Benjamin Department of Physics, New York University, New York, New York.
Last reviewed:October 2019
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The study of the structure of the atom, its dynamical properties, including energy states, and its interactions with particles and fields. These are almost completely determined by the laws of quantum mechanics, with very refined corrections required by quantum electrodynamics. Despite the enormous complexity of most atomic systems, in which each electron interacts with both the nucleus and all the other orbiting electrons, the wavelike nature of particles, combined with the Pauli exclusion principle, results in an amazingly orderly array of atomic properties. These are systematized by the Mendeleev periodic table. In addition to their classification by chemical activity and atomic weight, the various elements of this table are characterized by a wide variety of observable properties. These include electron affinity, polarizability, angular momentum, multiple electric moments, and magnetism. See also: Atomic mass; Periodic table; Quantum electrodynamics; Quantum mechanics
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