Actinide elements produce a plethora of interesting physical behaviors due to the 5f states. This review compiles and analyzes progress in understanding of the electronic and magnetic structure of the 5f states in actinide metals. Particular interest is given to electron energy-loss spectroscopy and many-electron atomic spectral calculations, since there is now an appreciable library of core d -> valence f transitions for Th, U, Np, Pu, Am, and Cm. These results are interwoven and discussed against published experimental data, such as x-ray photoemission and absorption spectroscopy, transport measurements, and electron, x-ray, and neutron diffraction, as well as theoretical results, such as density-functional theory and dynamical mean-field theory. |