No one can see an electron. Even an electron microscope, used for imaging the activities of these subatomic particles, does not offer a glimpse of an electron as one can look at an amoeba; instead, the microscope detects the patterns of electron deflection. In any case, a single-cell organism is gargantuan in comparison to an electron. Even when compared to a proton or a neutron, particles at the center of an atom, electrons are minuscule, being slightly more than 1/2000 the size of either. Yet the electron is the key to understanding the chemical process of bonding, and electron configurations clarify a number of aspects of the periodic table that may, at first, seem confusing.

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