What do the columns and rows on the periodic table mean?

If you work with any elements or metals, like the 15mm Copper Pipe from Watkins & Powis, you may be aware of the periodic table and how all the elements are laid out according to their atomic numbers. Each element also has its own symbol. But are you aware of what the columns and rows on the periodic table mean?

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Each column on the periodic table is known as a group or a family and it links together elements that have similar properties. These similarities are the number of electrons that the element has. The electrons are in what is known as the outer orbital and they are the ones that are involved in chemical bonding. Starting on the left-hand side of the table all the elements in the first column have 1 electron in their outer orbital, the second group has 2 electrons and so on.

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The rows on the table are known as periods and the elements in each row also have similarities. The similarity is the number of atomic orbitals that each element contains. The elements in row 1 contain 1 orbital that the electrons appear in, row 2 has 2 orbitals and this carries on down the rows. There are seven rows and presently the only elements that have been discovered contain between 1 and 7 orbitals.

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