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Thread: Why do atoms of a feather flock together?

  1. #1 Why do atoms of a feather flock together? 
    Forum Sophomore
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Why isn't the universe just a big soup of chemicals? Why is it that when we find water, or dirt, or air, we find it with more water, dirt, or air. In other words, why not just a single water molecule by itself? Why do water molecules tend to stick around with other water molecules?

    When we look around the world, we don't see one uniform substance making up everything--we see rocks, trees, sky, clouds, rivers, animals, and so on. In other words, different substances clumping together and staying separate from other substances. Take the sky for example. It is not only composed of oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide, but water molecules. Water molecules tend to clump together as clouds, separating itself from the rest. Of course, the rest of the molecules--the oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide--seem to stay evenly mixed (I think), but in general, there seems to be this tendency of molecules and atoms of one kind to stick together with other molecules and atoms of the same kind. The consequence is that, at the macroscopic level, we see objects made of specific substances separately from other objects made of different substances rather than a uniform soup of chemicals permeating everything.

    Why do molecules and atoms do this?

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  3. #2  
    Bullshit Intolerant PhDemon's Avatar
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    Feb 2013
    Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK
    The basic ideas are those of structure and bonding. Atoms can form bonds of various types (ionic, covalent, metallic) with each other depending on their electronic structures. These bonds and the electronic structure of the atoms can lead to a variety of molecular shapes and crystal structures. On top of this there are also forces between the molecules (hydrogen bonds, dipole-dipole interactions and van der Waals forces) that can cause molecules to aggregate in certain patterns.

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