Elemental phosphorus (P) is composed of 4 atoms. How can the periodic table show this? ?

This is for personal knowledge. I've been reading a chemistry book but can't recall how to discover the number of atoms in an element. The periodic table should disclose this information, correct?

Update:

Well suppose the textbook read, elemental phosphorus (P) is composed of how many atoms? I looked in the back of the book and found the answer to be (4). How could I have found this information on my own though, without scientific means?

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  • 1 decade ago
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    im not to sure if thats so... The periodic table does not disclose the identity of the di-atomic elements you just gotta remember them. Most elements are represented as monoatomic substances those exclusions i belive are only the diatomic elements, carbon, silicon, and phosphorus.... i might be wrong but thats my two cents... this is wikipedias explanation about the structure of white phosphorus.

    "White phosphorus, or yellow phosphorus, or simply tetraphosphorus (P4) exists as individual molecules made up of four atoms in a tetrahedral arrangement, resulting in very high ring strain and instability. It contains 6 single bonds."

    Source(s): www.wikipedia.org
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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Incorrect. You seem to be confused.

    P is an element. At STP under normal Earth atmospheric N2, O2, CO2 and H2O levels it is NOT found in elemental form - so why would the Periodic Chart show some arbirtary form? The most stable elemental form of P is red P which is a polymeric form. P4, white P, is very much less stable. (But know that temperature and pressure determine which form of an element is most thermodynamically stable - there is not just one "most" stable form.

    Some Periodic tables do indicate the "elemental" form of each element, but this is not standard nor are the isolated pure elements relevant for much of chemistry.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    they could use electrolysis to find amount of atoms.

    or use a chemical reaction into other already known atom formulas, and ad the atoms.

    also, there is an instrument called a spectrometer that measures percent of atoms in a molecule.

    Well, P4 is an Allotrope, which means it has a different chemical structure then other types of phosphorous. giving it different properties, like a diamond and graphite are both Carbon molocules, though the fact that one has a different property gives it a different structure.

    I hope that's what your asking for.

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