02 Inter-Atomic Distances


Inter-atomic Distances

As equation 1-10 indicates, the distance between any two atoms in a solid aggregate is a function of the specific rotations of the atoms. Since each atom is capable of assuming any one of several different relative orientations of its rotational motions, it follows that there are a number of possible specific rotations for each combination of atoms. This number of possible alternatives is still further increased by two additional factors that were discussed earlier. The atom has the option, as we noted in Chapter 10, Volume I, of rotating with the normal magnetic displacement and a positive electric displacement, or with the next higher magnetic displacement and a negative electric increment. And in either case, the effective quantity, the specific rotation, may be modified by extension of the motion to a second vibrating unit, as brought out in Chapter 1.

It is possible that each of these many variations of the magnitude of the specific rotation, and the corresponding values of the inter-atomic distances, may actually be realized under appropriate conditions, but in any particular set of circumstances certain combinations of rotations are more probable than the others, and in ordinary practice the number of different values of the distance between the same two atoms is relatively small, except in certain special cases. As matters now stand, therefore, we are able to calculate from theoretical premises a small set of possible inter-atomic distances for each element or compound.

Ultimately it will no doubt be advisable to evaluate the probability relations in detail so that the results of the calculations will be as specific as possible, but it has not been feasible to undertake this full treatment of the probability relationships in this present work. In an investigation of so large a field as the structure of the physical universe there must not only be some selection of the subjects that are to be covered, but also some decisions as to the extent to which that coverage will be carried. A comprehensive treatment of the probability relations wherever they enter into physical situations could be quite helpful, but the amount of time and effort required to carry out such a project will undoubtedly be enormous, and its contribution to the major objectives of this present undertaking is not sufficient to justify allocating so much of the available resources to it. Similar decisions as to how far to carry the investigation in certain areas have had to be made from time to time throughout the course of the work in order to limit it to a finite size.

It might be well to point out in this connection that it will never be possible to calculate a unique inter-atomic distance for every element or combination of elements, even when the probability relations have been definitely established, as in many cases the choice from among the alternatives is not only a matter of relative probability, but also of the history of the particular specimen. Where two or more alternative forms are stable within the range of physical conditions under which the empirical examination is being made; the treatment to which the specimen has previously been subjected plays an important part in the determination of the structure.

It does not follow, however, that we are totally precluded from arriving at definite values for the inter-atomic distances. Even though no quantitative evaluation of the relative probabilities of the various alternatives is yet available, the nature of the major factors involved in their determination can be deduced theoretically, and this qualitative information is sufficient in most cases to exclude all but a very few of the total number of possible variations of the specific rotations. Furthermore, there are some series relations by means of which the range of variability can be still further narrowed. These series patterns will be more evident when we examine the distances in compounds in the next chapter, and they will be given more detailed consideration at that point.

The first thing that needs to be emphasized as we begin our analysis of the factors that determine the inter-atomic distance is that we are not dealing with the sizes of atoms; what we are undertaking to do is to evaluate the distance between the equilibrium positions that the atoms occupy under specified conditions. In Chapter 1 we examined the general nature of the atomic equilibrium. In this and the following chapter we will see how the various factors involved in the relations between the rotations of the (apparently) interacting atoms affect the point of equilibrium, and we will arrive at values of the inter-atomic distances under static conditions. Then in Chapters 5 and 6 we will develop the quantitative relations that will enable us to determine just what changes take place in these equilibrium distances when external forces in the form of pressure and temperature are applied.

As we have seen in the preceding volume, all atoms and aggregates of matter are subject to two opposing forces of a general nature: gravitation and the progression of the natural reference system. These are the primary forces (or motions) that determine the course of physical events. Outside the gravitational limits of the largest aggregates, the outward motion due to the progression of the natural reference system exceeds the inward motion of gravitation, and these aggregates, the major galaxies, move outward from each other at speeds increasing with distance. Inside the gravitational limits the gravitational motion is the greater, and all atoms and aggregates move inward. Ultimately if nothing intervenes, this inward motion carries each atom within unit distance of another, and the directional reversal that takes place at the unit boundary then results in the establishment of an equilibrium between the motions of the two atoms. The inter-atomic distance is the distance between the atomic centers in this equilibrium condition. It is not, as currently assumed, an indication of the sizes of the atoms.

The current theory which regards the inter-atomic distance as a measure of “size” is, in many respects, quite similar to the electronic “bond” theory of molecular structure. Like the electronic theory, it is based on an erroneous assumption—in this case, the assumption that the atoms are in contact in the solid state—and like the electronic theory, it fits only a relatively small number of substances in its simple form, so that it is necessary to call upon a profusion of supplementary and subsidiary hypotheses to explain the deviations of the observed distances from what are presumed to be the primary values. As the textbooks point out, even in the metals, which are the simplest structures from the standpoint of the theory, there are many difficult problems, including the awkward fact that the presumed “size” is variable, depending on the nature of the crystal structure. Some further aspects of this situation will be considered in Chapter 3.

The resemblance between these two erroneous theories is not confined to the lack of adequate foundations and to the nature of the difficulties that they encounter. It also extends to the resolution of these difficulties, as the same principles that were derived from the postulates of the Reciprocal System to account for the formation of molecules of chemical compounds, when applied in a somewhat different way, are the general considerations that govern the magnitude of the inter-atomic distance in both elements and compounds. Indeed, all aggregates of electronegative elements are molecular in their composition, rather than atomic, as the molecular requirement that the negative electric displacement of an atom of such an element must be counterbalanced by an equivalent positive displacement in order to arrive at a stable equilibrium in space applies with equal force to a combination with a like atom. As we saw in our examination of the structural situation, electropositive elements are not subject to this restriction, but in many cases the molecular (balanced orientation) type of structure takes precedence over the electropositive structure by reason of collateral factors that affect the relative probability. Because of this fact that the distances follow the structural pattern, the various ways of orienting the atomic rotations that were discussed in Chapter 18, Volume I, with a few modifications due to the special conditions that exist in the elemental aggregates, determine the manner in which the atoms of an element are able to combine with each other, and the effective values of the specific rotations in these combinations.

In the electropositive elements the specific rotations are based, in the first instance, on the rotational displacements as listed in Chapter 10, Volume I. Where the inter-atomic orientation is the normal positive arrangement, the displacements as listed are translated directly into specific rotations by addition of the initial unit and reduction of the incremental values where the rotation extends to vibration two. Except for the elements of group 2A, which, as already noted, are subject to some special considerations because of their low magnetic displacements, the elements of Division I all follow the regular electropositive pattern of specific rotations. The only irregularities are in the electric rotations of the second and third elements of each group, where the point of transition to vibration two varies between groups. The inter-atomic distances in this division are listed in Table 2.

The regular electropositive pattern is also applicable in Division II, and a number of the Division II elements of Group 3A crystallize on this basis, with inter-atomic distances determined in the same manner as in Division I. As noted in Volume I, however, the Division II elements generally favor the magnetic type of orientation in chemical compounds because the normal positive orientation becomes less probable as the displacement, increases. The same probability considerations operate against the positive orientation in the elements of this division, but instead of employing the magnetic orientation as the alternate, these elements utilize a type of orientation that is available only where all rotations of each participant in a combination are identical with those of the other. This arrangement reverses the effective directions of the rotations of alternate atoms. The resulting relative rotation is a combination of x and 8-x (or 4-x), as in the neutral orientation, and the effective specific rotations are 10 for vibration one and 5 for vibration two. A combination value 5-10 is also common.

Table 2: Distances—Division I

Group Atomic
Element Specific Rotation Distance
Magnetic Electric Calc. Obs.
2B 11 Sodium 3-2½
2 3.70 3.71
12 Magnesium 3-2½ 3.17 3.21
13 Aluminum 3-2½ 3 2.83 2.86
3A 19 Potassium 4-3 2 4.49 4.50
20 Calcium 4-3 4.00 3.98
21 Scandium 4-3 4 3.18 3.20
22 Titanium 4-3 5 2.95 2.92
3B 37 Rubidium 4-4 2 4.85 4.87
38 Strontium 4-4 4.32 4.28
39 Yttrium 4-4 3.64 3.63
40 Zirconium 4-4 5 3.18 3.23
4A 55 Cesium 4½-4½ 2 5.23 5.24
56 Barium 5-4½ 3 4.36 4.34
57 Lanthanum 4½-4½ 4 3.70 3.74
58 Cerium 5-4½ 5 3.61 3.63
4B 89 Actinium 4½-5 4 3.79 3.76*
90 Thorium 4½-5 5 3.52 3.56

This reverse type of structure makes its appearance in body-centered cubic crystal forms of Chromium and Iron which coexist with the regular positive hexagonal or face-centered cubic structures. Vanadium and Niobium, the first Division II elements of their respective groups, combine the positive and reverse orientations. Beyond Niobium the positive orientation does not appear in the common Division II forms of the elements, the structures to which the present discussion is limited, and all elements take the reverse orientation, except Europium and Ytterbium, which combine it with a unit-specific rotation; that is, no electric-rotational displacement at all, as in the inert gas elements.

On the basis of the considerations discussed in Chapter 1, the average effective specific rotation for such rotational combinations has been taken as the geometric mean of the two components. Where the orientations are the same, and the only difference is in the magnitude, as in the 5-10 combination, and in the combinations of magnetic rotations that we will encounter later, the equilibrium is reached in the normal manner. If two different electric rotations are involved, the two-atom pairs cannot attain spatial equilibrium individually, but they establish a group equilibrium similar to that which is achieved where n atoms of valence one each combine with one atom of valence n.

The Division II distances are shown in Table 3.

Table 3: Distances—Division II

Group Atomic
Element Specific Rotation Distance
Magnetic Electric Calc. Obs.
3A 23 Vanadium 4-3 6-10 2.62 2.62
24 Chromium 4-3 7 2.68 2.72
4-3 10 2.46 2.49
25 Manganese 4-3 8 2.59 2.58
26 Iron 4-3 2.56 2.57
4-3 10 2.46 2.48
27 Cobalt 4-3 9 2.52 2.51
28 Nickel 4-3 2.49 2.49
3B 41 Niobium 4-4 6-10 2.83 2.85
42 Molybdenum 4-4½ 10 2.72 2.72
43 Technetium 4-4½ 10 2.73 2.73*
44 Ruthenium 4-4½ 10 2.73 2.70
45 Rhodium 4-4 10 2.66 2.69
4-4½ 10 2.73 2.76
46 Palladium 4-4½ 10 2.73 2.74
4A 59 Praseodymium 5-4½ 5 3.61 3.64
60 Neodymium 5-4½ 5 3.61 3.65
62 Samarium 5-4½ 5 3.61 3.62*
63 Europium 4½-5 1-5 3.96 3.96
64 Gadolinium 5-4½ 5 3.61 3.62
65 Terbium 5-4½ 5 3.61 3.59
66 Dysprosium 5-4½ 5 3.61 3.58
67 Holmium 4½-5 5 3.52 3.56
68 Erbium 4½-5 5 3.52 3.53
69 Thulium 4½-5 5 3.52 3.52
70 Ytterbium 4½-4½ 1-5 3.86 3.87
71 Lutetium 4½-5 5 3.52 3.50*
4B 91 Protactinium 4½-5 5-10 3.22 3.24*
92 Uranium 4½4½ 10 2.87 2.85
93 Neptunium 4½-4½ 5 3.43 3.46*
94 Plutonium 4½4½ 5-10 3.14 3.15*
95 Americum 4½-4½ 5 3.43 3.46*
96 Curium 4½-4½ 5-10 3.14 3.10*
97 Berkelium 4½-4½ 5 3.43 3.40*

Because of the greater probability of the electropositive types of combinations, the characteristics of Division II carry over into the first elements of Division III, and these elements, Nickel, Palladium, and Lutetium, are included in the table. Some similar modifications of the normal division boundaries have already been noted in connection with other subjects.

The net total rotation of the material atom is a motion with positive displacement—that is, a speed less than unity—and as such it normally results in a change of position in space. Inside unit space, however, all motion is in time. The orientation of the atom for the purpose of the space-time equilibrium therefore exists in the three dimensions of time. As we saw in our examination of the inter-regional situation in Chapter 12, Volume I, each of these dimensions contacts the space of the region outside unit distance individually. To the extent that the motion in a dimension of time acts along the line of this contact it is a motion in equivalent space. Otherwise it has no spatial effect beyond the unit boundary. Because of the independence of the three dimensions of motion in time the relative orientation of the electric rotation of any combination of atoms may be the same in all spatial dimensions, or there may be two or three different orientations.

In most of the elements that have been discussed thus far the orientation is the same in all spatial dimensions, and in the exceptions the alternate rotations are symmetrically distributed in the solid structure. The force system of an aggregate of such elements is isotropic. It follows that any aggregate of atoms of these elements has a structure in which the constituents are arranged in one of the geometrical patterns possible for equal forces: an isometric crystal. All of the electropositive elements (Divisions I and II) crystallize in isometric forms, and, except for a few which apparently have quite complex structures, each of the crystal forms of these elements belongs to one or another of three types: the face-centered cube, the body-centered cube, or the hexagonal close-packed structure.

We now turn to the other major subdivision of the elements, the electronegative class, those whose normal electric displacement is negative. Here the force system is not necessarily isotropic, since the most probable arrangement in one or two dimensions may be the negative orientation, a direct combination of two negative electric displacements, similar to the all-positive combinations. It is not possible to have negative orientation in all three dimensions, and wherever it does exist in one or two dimensions the rotational forces of the atoms are necessarily anisotropic. The controlling factor is the requirement that the net total rotational displacement of a material atom as a whole must be positive. Negative orientation in all three dimensions is obviously incompatible with this requirement, but if the negative displacement is restricted to one dimension the aggregate has fixed atomic positions in two dimensions, with a fixed average position in the third because of the positive displacement of the atom as a whole. This results in a crystal structure that is essentially equivalent to one with fixed positions in all dimensions. Such crystals are not usually isometric, as the inter-atomic distance in the odd dimension is generally different from that of the other two. Where the distances in all dimensions do happen to coincide, we will find on further investigation that the space symmetry is not an indication of force symmetry.

If the negative displacement is very small, as in the lower division IV elements, it is possible to have negative orientation in two dimensions if the positive displacement in the third dimension exceeds the sum of these two negative components, so that the net result is still positive. Here the relative positions of the atoms are fixed in one dimension only, but the average positions in the other two dimensions are constant by reason of the net positive displacement of the atoms. An aggregate of such atoms retains most of the external characteristics of a crystal, but when the internal structure is examined the atoms appear to be distributed at random, rather than in the orderly arrangement of the crystal. In reality there is just as much order as in the crystalline structure, but part of the order is in time rather than in space. This form of matter can be identified as the glassy, or vitreous, form, to distinguish it from the crystalline form.

The term “state” is frequently used in this connection instead of “form”, but the physical state of matter has an altogether different meaning based on other criteria, and it seems advisable to confine the use of this term to the one application. Both glasses and crystals are in the solid state.

In beginning a consideration of the structures of the individual electronegative elements, we will start with Division III. The general situation in this division is similar to that in Division II, but the negativity of the normal electric displacement introduces a new factor into the determination of the orientation pattern, as the most probable orientation of an electronegative element may not be capable of existing in all three dimensions. As stated earlier, where two or more different orientations are possible in a given set of circumstances the relative probability is the deciding factor. Low displacements are more probable than high displacements. Simple orientations are more probable than combinations. Positive electric orientation is more probable than negative. In Division I all of these factors operate in the same direction. The positive orientation is simple, and it also has the lowest displacement value. All structures in this division are therefore formed on the basis of the positive orientation. In Division II the margin of probability is narrow. Here the positive displacement x is greater than the inverse displacement 8-x, and this operates against the greater inherent probability of a simple positive structure. As a result, both the positive and reverse types of structure are found in this division, together with a combination of the two.

In Division III the negative orientation has a status somewhat similar to that of the positive orientation in Division II. As a simple orientation, it has a relatively high probability. But it is limited to one dimension. The regular division III structures of Groups 3A and 3B are therefore anisotropic, with the reverse orientation in the other two dimensions. A combination of these two types of orientation is also possible, and in copper and silver, the first Division III elements of their respective groups, the crystals formed on the basis of this combination orientation have cubic symmetry. As in Division II, the elements of Division III in Groups 4A and 4B crystallize entirely on the basis of the reverse orientation. Table 4 lists what may be considered as the regular inter-atomic distances of the elements of Division III.

Although the probability of the negative orientation is greater in Division IV than in Division III, because of the smaller displacement values, this type of structure seldom appears in the crystals of the lower division. The reason is that where this orientation exists in the elements of the lower displacements, it exists in two dimensions, and this produces a glassy or vitreous aggregate rather than a crystal. The reverse orientation is not subject to any restrictive factor of this nature, but it is less probable at the lower displacements, and except in Group 4A, where it continues to predominate, this orientation appears less frequently as the displacement decreases. Where it does exist it is increasingly likely to combine with some other type of orientation. As a result of these limitations that are applicable to the inherently more probable types of orientation, many of the Division IV structures are formed on the basis of the secondary positive orientation, a combination of two 8-x displacements.

Table 4: Distances—Division III

Group Atomic
Element Specific Rotation Distance
Magnetic Electric Calc. Obs.
3A 29 Copper 4-3 8-10 2.53 2.55
30 Zinc 4-4 7 2.90 2.91
4-4 10 2.66 2.66
31 Gallium 4-3 6 2.79 2.80
4-3 10 2.46 2.44
3B 47 Silver 4-5 8-10 2.87 2.88
48 Cadmium 5-4 7 3.20 3.26*
5-4 10 2.94 2.97
49 Indium 5-4 6 3.33 3.37
5-4 6-10 3.21 3.24
4A 72 Hafnium 4-4½ 5 3.26 3.32
73 Tantalum 4½-4½ 10 2.87 2.86
74 Tungsten 4-4½ 10 2.73 2.74
75 Rhenium 4-4½ 10 2.73 2.77*
76 Osmium 4-4½ 10 2.73 2.73
77 Iridium 4-4½ 10 2.73 2.71
78 Platinum 4-4½ 10 2.73 2.77
79 Gold 4½-4½ 10 2.87 2.88
80 Mercury 4-4½ 5-10 2.98 3.00
4½-4½ 5 3.43 3.47
81 Thallium 4½-4½ 5 3.43 3.45

The secondary positive orientation is not possible in the electropositive divisions, as 8-x is negative in these divisions, and like the negative orientation itself, an 8-x negative combination would be confined to a subordinate role in one or two dimensions of an asymmetric structure. Such a crystal structure cannot compete with the high probability of the symmetrical electropositive crystals, and therefore does not exist. In the electronegative divisions, however, the 8-x displacement is positive, and there are no limitations on it, aside from those arising from the high displacement values.

The effective displacement of this secondary positive orientation is even greater than might be expected from the magnitude of the quantity 8-x, as the change of zero points for the two oppositely directed motions is also oppositely directed, and the new zero points are 16 displacement units apart. The resultant relative displacement is 16-2x, and the corresponding specific rotation is 18-2x. In Division IV the numerical values of the latter expression range from 10 to 16, and because of the low probability of such high rotations, the secondary positive orientation is limited to one or one and one-half dimensions in spite of its positive character. In Division III the 8-x displacements are lower, but in this case they are too low. A two-unit separation of the zero points (16 displacement units) cannot be maintained unless the effective displacement is at least 8 (one full three-dimensional unit). The secondary positive orientation is therefore confined to Division IV.

A special type of structure is possible only for those electronegative elements which have a rotational displacement of four units in the electric dimension. These elements are on the borderline between Divisions III and IV, where the secondary positive and reverse orientations are about equally probable. Under similar conditions other elements crystallize in hexagonal or tetragonal structures, utilizing the different orientations in the different dimensions. For these displacement 4 elements, however, the two orientations produce the same specific rotation: 10. The inter-atomic distance in these crystals is therefore the same in all dimensions, and the crystals are isometric, even though the rotational forces in the different dimensions are not of the same character. The molecular arrangement in this crystal pattern, the diamond structure, shows the true nature of the rotational forces. Outwardly this crystal cannot be distinguished from the isotropic cubic crystals, but the analogous body-centered cubic structure has an atom at each corner of the cube as well as one in the center, whereas the diamond structure leaves alternate corners open to accommodate the abnormal projection of forces in the secondary positive dimension.

In those of the lower elements of Division IV that are beyond the range of the inverse type of orientation, there is no available alternative for combination with the secondary positive orientation. The crystals of these elements therefore have no effective electric rotation in the remaining dimensions, and the relative specific rotation in these dimensions is unity, as in all dimensions of the inert gas elements. The most common distances in the aggregates of the Division IV elements are shown in Table 5.

Up to this point, no consideration has been given to the elements of atomic number below 10, as the rotational forces of these elements are subject to certain special influences which make it desirable to discuss them separately. One cause of deviation from the normal behavior is the small size of the rotational groups. In the larger groups the four divisions are distinct, and, except for some overlapping, each has its own characteristic force combinations, as we have seen in the preceding paragraphs. In an 8-element group, however, the second series of four elements, which would normally constitute Division III, is actually in the Division IV position. As a result, these four elements have, to a certain extent, the properties of both divisions. Similarly, the Division I elements of these groups may, in some cases, act as if they were members of Division III.

A second influence that affects the forces and the crystal structures of the lower group elements is the inactivity of the rotational forces in certain dimensions that was mentioned earlier. A specific rotation of two units produces no effect in the positive direction. The reason for this is revealed by equation 1-1. By applying this equation we find that the effective rotational force (ln t) for t = 2 is 0.693, which is less than the opposing space-time force 1.00. The net effective force of specific rotation 2 is therefore below the minimum value for action in the positive direction. In order to produce an active force the specific rotation must be high enough to make ln(t) greater than unity. This is accomplished at rotation 3.

Table 5: Distances—Division IV

Group Atomic
Element Specific Rotation Distance
Magnetic Electric Calc. Obs.
2B 14 Silicon 3-3 5-10 2.31 2.35
15 Phosphorus 3-3 10 2.19 2.2
3-4 1 3.46 3.48*
16 Sulfur 3-3 10 2.11 2.07
3-3 1 3.21 3.27*
17 Chlorine 3-3 16 1.92 1.82
3-3 1-16 2.48 2.52
3A 32 Germanium 4-3 10 2.46 2.43
33 Arsenic 4-3 12 2.37 2.44*
4-3 10 2.46 2.51
34 Selenium 4-3 14 2.32 2.32
3-4 1 3.46 3.46
35 Bromine 4-3 16 2.25 2.27
3-4 1 3.46 3.30
3B 50 Tin 4½-4 10 2.80 2.80
5-4 5-10 3.22 3.17
5-4 10 2.94 3.02
51 Antimony 5-4 12 2.83 2.87
5-4 4-10 3.34 3.36*
52 Tellurium 5-4½ 14 2.82 2.86
5-4½ 1-10 3.71 3.74
53 Iodine 5-4 16 2.68 2.70
5-4 1-16 3.54 3.54
5-4 1 4.46 4.41*
4A 82 Lead 4½-4½ 5 3.43 3.49
83 Bismuth 4½-4½ 5 3.43 3.47*
4½-4½ 5-10 3.14 3.10
84 Polonium



3.43 3.40*

The specific magnetic rotation of the 1B group, which includes only the two elements hydrogen and helium, and the 2A group of eight elements beginning with lithium, combines the values 3 and 2. Where the value 2 applies to the subordinate rotation (3-2), one dimension is inactive; where it applies to the principal rotation (2-3), two dimensions are inactive. This reduces the force exerted by each atom to 2/3 of the normal amount in the case of one inactive dimension, and to 1/3 for two inactive dimensions. The inter-atomic distance is proportional to the square root of the product of the two forces involved. Thus the reduction in distance is also 1/3 per inactive dimension.

Since the electric rotation is not a basic motion, but a reverse rotation of the magnetic rotational system, the limitations to which the basic rotation is subject are not applicable. The electric rotation merely modifies the magnetic rotation, and the low value of the force integral for specific rotation 2 makes itself apparent by an inter-atomic distance which is greater than that which would prevail if there were no electric displacement at all (unit specific rotation).

Theoretical values of the inter-atomic distances of the lower group elements are compared with measured values in Table 6.

Table 6: Distances—Lower Group Elements

Group Atomic
Element Specific Rotation Distance
Magnetic Electric Calc. Obs.
1B 1 Hydrogen 3(1) 10 0.70 0.74*
2 Helium 3(1) 1 1.07 1.09
*2A 3 Lithium 2½-2½ 2 3.05 3.03
4 Beryllium 3(2) 2.282 2.28
5 Boron 3(2) 5 1.68 1.74*
3-3 10 2.11 2.03*
6 C (diamond) 3(2) 5-10 1.54 1.54
C (graphite) 3(2) 1 1.41 1.42
3-3 1 3.21 3.40
7 Nitrogen 3(1½) 10 1.06 1.06
3-3 1 3.21 3.44*
8 Oxygen 3(1½) 10 1.06 1.15*
3-3 1 3.21 3.20*
9 Fluorine 3(2)
10 1.41 1.44*

The figures in parentheses in column 4 of this table indicate the effective number of dimensions. Thus the notation 3(1) shown for hydrogen means that this element has a specific magnetic rotation of 3, effective in only one dimension.

Except where the crystals are isometric, there is still much uncertainty in the distance measurements on these lower group elements, and many other values have been reported in addition to those included in the table. This situation will be discussed at length in Chapter 3, where we will have the benefit of measurements of the distances between like atoms that are constituents of chemical compounds.

As indicated in the introductory paragraphs of this chapter, we are not yet in a position where we can determine specifically just what the inter-atomic distance will be for any given element under a given set of conditions. The theoretical considerations that have been discussed actually do lead to specific values in many cases, but in other instances there is an uncertainty as to which of two or more theoretically possible rotational arrangements corresponds to the observed crystal structure. Continuing progress is being made in both the experimental and the theoretical fields, and it can be expected that these uncertainties will gradually diminish toward the irreducible minimum that was mentioned earlier. In the course of this process there will necessarily be some changes in the identifications of the observed inter-atomic distances with the theoretically possible structures. A comparison of Tables 1 to 6 with the corresponding tabulations of the first edition should therefore be of interest as an indication of the nature and magnitude of the changes that have taken place in our view of this inter-atomic distance situation in the last twenty years, and by extension, an indication of the amount of change that can be expected in the future.

Such a comparison shows that the modifications of the original conclusions that now appear to be required, in the light of the additional information that has been made available, are confined almost entirely to those which have resulted from a better theoretical understanding of the behavior of the specific magnetic rotation above an effective value of 4. Few changes are required in either the magnetic or electric values in those rotational combinations where the specific magnetic rotation is 4-4 or less.

One of the puzzling features of the rotational situation as it appeared at the time of the original publication was the apparent retrograde progression of the specific magnetic rotation in Groups 4A and 4B. It was recognized at that time that both the 4½ and 5 values of the specific rotation correspond to the same displacement, 4, the difference being that in the case of the 4½ value the rotation extends to two units of vibration, and the last increment of specific rotation in this case is only half size. The next half unit increment, if such an increment were possible, would bring the 4½ rotation back to the 5 value. It would therefore appear that the sequence of specific rotations beyond 4½-4 should be 4½-4½, 5-4½, 5-5, and so on. But the tendency is in the opposite direction. Instead of moving toward higher values as the atomic number increases, there is actually a decreasing trend. This was already evident at the time of publication of the first edition, as the low inter-atomic distances of the series of elements from Tungsten to Platinum could not be accounted for unless the specific magnetic rotation dropped back to 4-4½ from the higher levels of the preceding elements of the 4A group. This decreasing trend has become even more prominent as distances have become available for additional elements of Group 4B, as some of these values indicate specific magnetic rotations of 4-4, or possibly even 4-3½.

As it happens, the continuation of the trend toward lower values in the more recent data has had the effect of clarifying the situation. It is now evident that the 5-5 specific rotation is not reached within the accessible portion of Groups 4A and 4B. (Considerations that will be discussed later show that the specific rotation of 5-5 would be unstable.) The lower values in the 4A and 4B groups do not result from a decrease in the magnetic displacement, but from a shift of the existing displacement units from vibration one to vibration two, a process which reduces the specific rotation of the units by one half. On a vibration one basis, rotational displacements 4-3 correspond to specific rotations 5-4. Conversion of successive units of displacement to vibration two, without change in the number of displacement units, results in a series of specific rotations, 5-4, 4½-4, 4-4½, 4-4, and so on. A similar series with one additional displacement unit goes through the values 5-4½, 4½-5, 4½-4½, 4½-4, and then follows the same route as the series with the lower displacement.

The modifications that have been made in the theoretical rotational values applicable to the elements of these two highest rotational groups since the publication of the first edition are the result of a review of the situation in the light of this new understanding of the trend of the specific rotation. The general pattern in group 4A is now seen to be that of the series from 5-4½ to 4-4½, with a return to 4½-4½ in the lower electronegative elements. So far as can be determined at this time, Group 4B follows the same pattern one step farther advanced; that is, it begins with 4½-5 rather than 5-4½.

The difference in the inter-atomic distance corresponding to one of the steps in this conversion process is relatively small, and in view of the substantial variation in the experimental values it has not appeared advisable to take into account the possibility of combinations such as 4½-5 specific rotation of one atom of a pair and 4½-4½ in the other. It seems clear that such combinations do exist in some of the lower group elements, Sodium, for example, and they probably play some part in the higher groups. Most of the reported distances for Holmium and Erbium, for instance, agree more closely with a combination of 5-4½ and 4½-5 than with either individually. However, all of these values are theoretically possible, and the only question at issue in this and many other similar cases is which theoretical value corresponds to the observed distance. Definitive answers to identification questions of this kind will have to wait until the theoretical probabilities are specifically evaluated, or the experimental uncertainties are resolved.

Many questions concerning alternate crystal structures will also have to wait for more information from theory or experiment, particularly where crystal forms that exist only at high temperatures or pressures are involved. There is, however, a large body of information already available in this area, and it can be tied into the theoretical picture as soon as someone has the time and the inclination to undertake the task.