Each p level on the energy-level diagram on page
14 is labeled with the symbol of the noble gas that results
when that level is filled. Both the noble gases and the natural
breaks between rows of the periodic table are dictated by these
larger energy spacings between p and s levels.
The interruptions for insertion of ten transition metals in rows
four and five of the table arise because the 3d energy level
lies between the 4s and 4p levels (see page
14), and the 4d level lies between the 5s and
5p levels. In rows six and seven, the inner transition metals
result from the filling of a set of seven f orbitals with
fourteen electrons. The order of filling of levels in row six is
6s, 4f, 5d, 6p, and in row seven of
the table the order is 7s, 5f, 6d, 7p.
The closely related chemical properties of the transition metals,
and the near-identity of the inner transition metals, can be explained
in terms of orbital structure. The chemical behavior of an atom
is dictated primarily by its outermost electrons, since these are
what a neighboring atom "sees" and may react with. Even though the
3d orbitals have slightly higher energy than the 4s
orbital, and hence come later in the filling sequence, they do not
extend as far out from the nucleus as the 4s orbitals do.
From the vantage point of a neighboring atom, there is less difference
between iron and cobalt (filling of 3d) than between potassium
and calcium (filling of 4s), because the orbitals in which
the changes are occurring are less exposed. Hence less difference
in chemical properties is seen between two horizontally adjacent
transition metals than between neighboring representative elements.