There is no simple explanation; I could discuss
quantum mechanics, which is the physical basis for
chemistry, but that's quite complicated indeed.
How does quantum mechanics enter into
this? Electrons don't actually orbit the
nuclei of atoms. Instead,electrons are located
in probability distributions around atoms called
electron shells. All atoms have the same
electron shells, but since different elements have
different electric charges, the shells filled,
is different in each element. When two
elements bond together, a new "orbital" becomes
more thermodynamically feasible (i.e. it
releases energy to go there), and the electrons
move into this new orbital that involves both
atoms. It now becomes difficult to pull the atoms
apart, because doing so would require pulling the
electrons out of the potential well.
Different bonds between different elements are
stronger or weaker, of course. Elements needing
only a few electrons to fill their shells (e.g.
oxygen) will just take electrons from atoms that
have a few leftover from their outer shells (e.g.
metals). That's why certain chemicals, when put
Atoms have three main parts: protons, neutrons
and electrons. The protons and neutrons hang
out inside the nucleus of the atom, while the
electrons orbit around the nucleus. Electrons
are divided into separate shells outside the
nucleus, and there are only a certain number of
electrons allowed in each shell. Each atom
has one or more different configurations of these
parts. Some configurations allow for more
electrons in a shell, and some can spare an
electron, and that is how two atoms can come
This can also occur with molecules, where one
atom in a molecule has an electron that it will
share with an atom from another molecule. This is
called Orbital Theory and will be discussed
in your chemistry class.
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