Why is argon a noble gas given that the 3d subshell is still empty? More generally, why is it that the filling of a p sub-shell makes an element noble rather than s, d, or f sub-shells, or completed n-levels?
Let's start with the prior that in a hydrogen atom the principle quantum number determines the energy - so maybe full shells correspond to noble gases.
Now, I understand that in helium the n=1 level is full, so it is a noble gas. Then, beryllium has a full 2s subshell, but empty 2p, so it is a metal. Neon has the n=2 level full, and is a noble gas. Magnesium has a full 3s subshell, but not a full n=3 level and is a metal - so far so good. But, oops, argon has full 3s and 3p subshells but empty 3d, yet it is a noble gas.
At this point we look at the aufbau principle and say "ah, your prior is no good, the 4s is lower energy than 3d, and this is the first time it has kicked in - so there you go". But, as we continue down the periodic table there are more noble gasses and they happen only with the filling of a p subshell. Why is krypton noble, but not zinc? Even palladium cleanly fills n=4 up through 4d (with only 4f empty) but it is still not a noble gas. Ytterbium fills an f subshell for the first time and it isn't noble. What makes the filling of a p subshell so specially inert compared to s, d, and f subshells?
The aufbau principle does not explain this. Draw the classic "diagonal aufbau chart" and circle where the noble gasses are. It doesn't add any insight. Noble gasses only happen when you fill a p subshell. Why?
Edited to add: When an electron is promoted out of a two electron s-shell into an empty p-shell the spin will flip and energy is saved because of the Pauli exchange (two same spin electrons can avoid each other). The one remaining s electron, and the one new p electron benefit from each having a sub-shell to themselves - kinda a push vs. the s to p promotion. This, to me, intuitively explains why full s shells aren't noble.
User4552 points out that brute force calculation shows that energy gaps after a p shell is filled are large. But it doesn't help my intuition to just hear "the computer calculations reveal that ...". So can anyone help with intuition on why full p-shells, rather that full d-shells, are noble?