It is 200 years since chemists first recognized that electricity is what causes atoms to stick together, but early attempts to quantify this process were unproductive. Instead chemists devised an empirical model in which neighboring atoms were connected by bonds but without specifying what forces were involved. A hundred years later physicists discovered atoms and learned how to use the Schrödinger equation with the electrostatic potential to examine the interactions between the atoms, but the resulting picture of an array of nuclei surrounded by negative charge showed no sign of the chemists’ bonds, nor did it suggest a natural way...

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