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The Interdisciplinary approach



Reflection on the subject of filling electron shells can cause various associations. One of them is Russian Matrioshka or Japanese dolls Shichi-fuku-jin ("Seven Gods of Luck"), where the larger doll serves as a container for smaller ones.

Figure 2. The Japanese dolls Shichi-fuku-jin enclosed by Russian Matrioshkas.

Symbol Name Electron Configuration
1 H Hydrogen 1s1
2 He Helium 1s2
3 Li Lithium [He] 2s1
4 Be Beryllium [He] 2s2
5 B Boron [He] 2s2, p1
6 C Carbon [He] 2s2, p2
7 N Nitrogen [He] 2s2, p3
8 O Oxigen [He] 2s2, p4
9 F Fluorine [He] 2s2, p5
10 Ne Neon [He] 2s2, p6
11 Na Sodium [Ne] 3s1
12 Mg Magnesium [Ne] 3s2
13 Al Aluminium [Ne] 3s2, p1
14 Si Silicon [Ne] 3s2, p2
15 P Phosphorus [Ne] 3s2, p3
16 S Sulfur [Ne] 3s2, p4
17 Cl Chlorine [Ne] 3s2, p5
18 Ar Argon [Ne] 3s2, p6
19 K Potassium [Ar] 4s1
... ... ... ...

An example of filling electronic subshells.

A  shorthand method is used that lists only those electrons in excess of the noble gas configuration immediately preceding the atom in the periodic table. He is inserted like Matrioshka in Ne, both of them are inserted in Ar and so forth.

Among vegetative objects the multilayer structure can bring to mind also an onion bulb or a cabbage with leaves folded into a compact head. The other botanical example will be considered below.


The following association is a spiral. The recurring with the addition is the spiral.

Figure 3. The spiral form of the periodic system of elements.

For some time my spiral table seemed to me original and fresh, but actually, the age of this is more than a century. From the authors whom I know the first one to offer a spiral structure of the system of chemical elements was T. Karnelli in 1886. (I am not sure in a correct latin spelling, the surname was found out  in Russian on exposure in Polytechnic museum in Moscow).


In the above-stated figure the spiral system of elements is represented, the image of which is caused in memory by regularities of leaves arrangement, or phyllotaxis (for example, spines disposition on a cactus) [7].

Figure 4. The cactus. The spiral - radial analogy.



Figure 5. Johannes Vermeer's work "The Lacemaker", 1664-65; Louvre, Paris.

The idea of a composite likeness with spiral patterns of a sunflower's head stated by Salvador Dali. However, it is easy to distinguish a classical pyramidal composition.


We discover in the children's literature of different countries and peoples remarkable and numerous examples of spiral (recurring with addition) constructions. English (and not only English) children have a folktale "This Is The House That Jack Built", Francophones have - the songs "Biquett' ne veut pas sortir des choux" ("Biquette does not want to leave cabbage"),  "Alouette gentille Alouette" ("Skylark lovely Skylark"), "J'ai perdu le do de ma clarinette" ("I have lost 'do' (the pitch 'C') of my clarinet"), in Russian - fairy tales "Kolobok" ("Roll"), "Teremok" ("Little Tower"), "Repka" ("Turnip"), "Fox with the rolling pin". Compare filling of atom's electron shells and subshells with a famous folktale.

This Is The House That Jack Built
This is the house that Jack built.
This is the malt that lay in 
the house that Jack built.
This is the rat that ate
the malt that lay in 
the house that Jack built.
This is the cat that killed 
the rat that ate 
the malt that lay in 
the house that Jack built.
This is the dog that worried 
the cat that killed 
the rat that ate
the malt that lay in 
the house that Jack built.
Figure 6. Correspondence of filling electron shells to composition of 
some works of the children's literature on the example 
of the folktale "This Is The House That Jack Built".


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