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Chemical Reactions (Essential Chemistry) by Kristi Lew

By Kristi Lew

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Sample text

Covalent ­Bonds Giving away and taking in electrons are not the only ways in which atoms can get eight electrons in their outermost electron shell. They can also share electrons. The oxygen and hydrogen in water do this. When atoms share electrons, it is called a covalent bond. Covalent bonds most often happen between two or more ­nonmetals. Take the case of hydrogen and oxygen joining to form water: Oxygen needs two electrons to fill up its outermost electron shell. But hydrogen does not give up its valance electron as easily as sodium does.

The amount of time it takes for half of the atoms of a radio­ isotope to decay is called its ­half-­life. The ­half-­life of carbon-14 is about 5,700 ­years. Scientists use this fact to help them date artifacts. Of all of the carbon atoms in the universe, about 1 in 1 trillion of them are carbon-14 atoms. Carbon-14 exists naturally in the atmosphere, mostly in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2). Some carbon dioxide molecules contain carbon-14 instead of carbon-­12. Carbon dioxide molecules get absorbed by plants and are used during a process called photosynthesis.

The following sections explain several ways in which the speed of a chemical reaction can ­change. Temperature Most chemical reactions speed up when the temperature goes up, and slow down if the temperature ­decreases. When the temperature goes up, the molecules move around faster and they have more energy. Increasing the kinetic energy of the atoms, ions, or molecules makes the reaction go faster. The faster the particles are moving, the more they collide with each ­other. Decreasing the temperature does exactly the opposite.

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