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394 pages, Hardcover
First published January 1, 2010
For instance, thirteen aluminium atoms grouped together in the right way do a killer bromine: the two entities are indistinguishable in chemical reactions. This happens despite the cluster being thirteen times larger than a single bromine atom and despite aluminium being nothing like the lacrimatory poison-gas staple ... The clusters work like this. The atoms arrange themselves into a three-dimensional polyhedron, and each atom in it mimics a proton and a neutron in a collective nucleus. The caveat is that electrons can flow around inside this soft nucleic blob, and the atoms share the electrons collectively. Scientists wryly call this state of matter "jellium."