Hidrogênio, hélio e boro em DeLanda (2010)

Armed with this terminology [“dynamical systems theory” e “group theory”] we can now confront the question of what would replace the genus “Atom” in a Deleuzian metaphysics. The structure of the genus, the way it subdivides into species, is given by the rhythms of the Periodic Table. The first rhythm to be noticed, as mentioned before, was that the emergent properties of atoms recurred every eight species. Later [90] on, however, as more species were discovered, chemists realized that the rhythm was more complex than that: it repeated twice with a cycle of eight; then it repeated twice more with a cycle of eighteen; then twice more with a cycle of thirty two. Adding to this the “lone” simplest species, hydrogen and helium, the series becomes: 2, 8, 8, 18, 18, 32, 32. The explanation for this complex periodicity turned out to be a symmetry-breaking cascade in the shape of the “trajectories” with which an electron “orbits” the nucleus. Actually, electrons do not move along sharply defined trajectories, since they behave like waves, but rather inhabit a cloud or statistical distribution possessing a given spatial form: an orbital.

The sequence of broken symmetries structuring the space of possible orbital forms may be unfolded as one injects more and more energy into a basic hydrogen atom. The single electron of this atom inhabits an orbital with the form (and symmetry) of a sphere. Exciting this atom to the next level yields either a second larger spherical orbital, or one of three possible orbitals with a two-lobed symmetry (two-lobes with three different orientations). Injecting even more energy we reach a point at which the two-lobed orbital becomes a fourlobed one (with five different orientations) which in turn yields a six-lobed one as the excitation gets intense enough. In reality, this unfolding sequence does not occur to a hydrogen atom but to atoms with an increasing number of protons in their nuclei, boron being the first chemical species to use the a nonspherically symmetric orbital. [Nota de rodapé 13: Vincent Icke. The Force of Symmetry. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. 150-162.] Coupling this series of electron orbitals of decreasing symmetry to the requirement that only two electrons of opposite spin may inhabit the same orbital (a requirement that can be expressed in terms of regions of phase space) [Nota de rodapé 14: Stephen F. Mason. Chemical Evolution. Op. Cit. p. 60.] we can reproduce, and explain, the rhythms of the Periodic Table.

Let’s summarize the argument so far. In a Deleuzian ontology there is no such thing as “atoms in general” only variable populations of individual atomic assemblages. The kind and number of some components of the assemblage (protons) is what ensures that some properties are shared by all atoms of a given species, while the kind and number of others (neutrons) give these properties a certain degree of variation. Some variants [91] of the assemblage will be highly stable isotopes, like the isotope of helium possessing exactly two protons and two neutrons, while other variants will lack this property. Only isotopes that are very stable last long enough in the intense environment of a star to serve as a platform for the assembly of more complex nuclei. This means that while the different species of atomic assemblages are defined by the structure of the space of possible electron orbitals, the production pathways from one species to another within a star are determined by populations of stable isotopes, a stability derived from the possession of a singularity (a minimum of energy) in the space of possible proton-neutron interactions. Thus, an atomic assemblage has an actual part, the components that actually interact to yield emergent properties, and a virtual part, the universal singularities and symmetries that structure its associated possibility space. The term “virtual” refers to the ontological status of entities that are real but not actual, such as tendencies that are not actually manifested (or capacities that are not actually exercised). The virtual component of an assemblage is called its diagram. (DeLanda 2010:89-91)

DELANDA, Manuel. 2010. Deleuze: History and Science. New York: Atropos Press.