I came across an amazing website today called Science Questions with Surprising Answers. The website is run by Dr Christopher S. Baird, who teaches at the Department of Physics at University of Massachusetts Lowell. The website answers fascinating (and sometimes bizarre) questions with a rare balance of accuracy and clarity.
I particularly like the Chemistry section, which answers the question, “Are two atoms of the same element identical?” His answer is as follows:
“No. Two atoms of the same chemical element are typically not identical. First of all, there is a range of possible states that the electrons of an atom can occupy. Two atoms of the same element can be different if their electrons are in different states. If one copper atom has an electron in an excited state and another copper atom has all of its electrons in the ground state, then the two atoms are different…”
The blog actually reminds me of the book, What If?, which is a more comical (and less relevant) companion to this blog.
Browse his website and introduce it your students this semester!