Well, suprize. I've not had any formal education in the field as well. Yes it's very difficult to follow. I started with a book by Stephan Hawking I found at the goodwill store for one dollar. A dollar well spent. I've found that the concepual theorys, for me, are quite easy to follow with an open mind.
Chemistry huh? I'm intruiqued. Can you describe, in laymans terms or analiticle examples what you seek. All the elements are made of the stars starting with a first generation of hydrogen and processing up thru the periodic table to the more complicated elements like carbon and silicon; us.
You might try approaching some chemist by e-mail. I have e-mailed Martin Rees @ Chambridge University concerning a spectral anylisis on a "lensed" galaxy some 13 billion light years away. He explained that due to the gravitational distortions produced by the "lensing galaxy" a precise spectral analysis could not be made and that we would have to wait untill computers were powerfull enough to compensate for the distortions.
Perhaps you too can locate some chemist you admire to ask you questions.
How do the electron orbits figure in? Thats wild. This may be your stumbling block. You will at least have to apply quantum physics. Simply because it incompasses "The Heisenburg Theory", more specificly the "Uncertainty Principle" contained within it. The problem here, if you haven't read it yet, is that one cannot measure "both" the speed of the electron and it's position simultainiously. The measurments here are so minute that any force applied to measure the position affects it's speed and any attempt to measure it's speed affects it's position. "This" represents one area where S.S.T. will help us see what is going on here or at least provide some equation to accuratly compensate for and correct the values obtained.
"IT'S NOT A STUPID THOUGHT", stop that. Be stuborn, but keep an open mind to those that shun your vision. Their very critisizums, if you don't let them, may offer an insight to your very problem. Try to be the atom. At night when your about to fall asleep, go there. Pretend your the electron and your not the one moving. Mabey reversing your frame of reference might help.
Will look for you soon, good luck!
--"After all is said and done, "Gravity Rules."--