Atomic physics is the field of physics that studies atoms as an isolated system of electrons and an atomic nucleus. It is primarily concerned with the arrangement of electrons around the nucleus and the processes by which these arrangements change. This includes ions as well as neutral atoms and, ...

learn more… | top users | synonyms (2)

67
votes
2answers
11k views

Why doesn't matter pass through other matter if atoms are 99.999% empty space?

The ghostly passage of one body through another is obviously out of the question if the continuum assumption were valid, but we know that at the micro, nano, pico levels (and beyond) this is not even ...
43
votes
6answers
6k views

Why are most metals gray/silver?

Why do most metals (iron, tin, aluminum, lead, zinc, tungsten, nickel, etc.) appear silver or gray in color? (What atomic characteristics determine the color?) What makes copper and gold have ...
34
votes
5answers
2k views

If photon energies are continuous and atomic energy levels are discrete, how can atoms absorb photons?

If photon energies are continuous and atomic energy levels are discrete, how can atoms absorb photons? The probability of a photon having just the right amount of energy for an atomic transition is ...
31
votes
4answers
6k views

Why is the sky never green? It can be blue or orange, and green is in between!

I, like everybody I suppose, have read the explanations why the colour of the sky is blue: ... the two most common types of matter present in the atmosphere are gaseous nitrogen and oxygen. ...
17
votes
11answers
3k views

Where did Schrödinger solve the radiating problem of Bohr's model?

One of the problems with Bohr's theory to describe the hydrogen atom, was that the electron orbiting around the nucleus has an acceleration. Therefore it radiates and loses energy, until it would ...
16
votes
3answers
2k views

How large can an atom get? What's the farthest an electron can be from its nucleus?

For example, would it be possible to excite a hydrogen atom so that it's the size of a tennis ball? I'm thinking the electron would break free at some point, or it just gets practically harder to keep ...
16
votes
2answers
198 views

Why does sand stick to my shoes?

Well, that's easy: the sand is wet, and my shoes are wet, and hydrogen bonding adheres the wet sand to my wet feet and to my shoes. But then I walk home, and my shoes dry, and the sand on them dries, ...
15
votes
5answers
4k views

Which experiments prove atomic theory?

Which experiments prove atomic theory? Sub-atomic theories: atoms have: nuclei; electrons; protons; and neutrons. That the number of electrons atoms have determines their relationship with other ...
15
votes
4answers
700 views

Why do electrons in an atom occupy only the stationary states?

When we talk about the elementary problems in quantum mechanics like particle in a box, we first calculate the energy eigen-function. Then we say that the most general state is the linear combination ...
14
votes
4answers
531 views

Why is it often assumed that particles are found in energy eigenstates?

Energy eigenstates provide a convenient basis for solving quantum mechanics problems, but they are by no means the only allowable states. Yet it seems to me that particles/systems are assumed to be in ...
13
votes
1answer
1k views

How would one detect antihydrogen in the universe?

Since the spectra of hydrogen and antihydrogen are the same, how do astronomers know which one they're detecting? Is, perhaps, the Lamb shift in antihydrogen different?
12
votes
5answers
1k views

How does the hydrogen atom know which frequencies it can emit photons at?

At university, I was shown the Schrodinger Equation, and how to solve it, including in the $1/r$ potential, modelling the hydrogen atom. And it was then asserted that the differences between the ...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

What is the physical meaning/concept behind Legendre polynomials?

In mathematical physics and other textbooks we find the Legendre polynomials are solutions of Legendre's differential equations. But I didn't understand where we encounter Legendre's differential ...
10
votes
5answers
539 views

Does an electron move from one excitation state to another, or jump?

I'm wondering, when an electron changes state, does it move from one state to another over some (very small) time period? Or does it change from one state to another in no time? If the former, what ...
9
votes
2answers
537 views

Trouble understanding the Bohr model of the atom

In this article it says: The electrons can only orbit stably, without radiating, in certain orbits (called by Bohr the "stationary orbits") at a certain discrete set of distances from the nucleus. ...
9
votes
5answers
968 views

What happens when we bring an electron and a proton together?

I have a couple of conceptual questions that I have always been asking myself. Suppose we have an electron and a proton at very large distance apart, with nothing in their way. They would feel each ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

Why does electron move in an elliptical path?

According to Sommerfeld's atomic model, an electron moving around a central positively charged nucleus is influenced by the nuclear charge. As a result of which, the electron moves in an elliptical ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

How does an electron move around in an orbital? Is it “wave-like” or random?

When an electron is moving around in it's orbital, is it actually moving around like a wave, like this video shows? (By wave-like, I mean, the "electron" in this video is showing it following a ...
8
votes
4answers
5k views

Why do covalent bonds form?

why in a covalent bond are "the bonded electrons are in a lower energy state than if the individual atoms held them at the same proximity"? Also is it correct that " I think when you start pushing ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

Why are noble gases used for lights?

I know that neon is used in advert signs due to its inertness. However, I am not entirely sure how the inertness is exploited. I think it is because Ne being inert means that after electricity frees ...
8
votes
4answers
972 views

Huge confusion with Fermions and Bosons and how they relate to total spin of atom

I am supremely confused when something has spin or when it does not. For example, atomic Hydrogen has 4 fermions, three quarks to make a proton, and 1 electron. There is an even number of fermions, ...
7
votes
3answers
2k views

If atoms never “physically” touch each others, then how does matter-antimatter annihilation happen?

It is known that matter and antimatter annihilate each others when they "touch" each others. And as far as I know, the concept of "touching" as our brain gets it is not true on the atomic level since ...
7
votes
3answers
484 views

Hot water freezing faster than cold water

This question has puzzled me for a long time. There is already a question like this on Physics.SE. John's answer to the question seems quite satisfying. But when I googled the cause I found this and ...
7
votes
2answers
594 views

An atomic bomb explodes inside of an “unbreakable” container which is on a scale. Does the “weight” of the container change?

This may or may not be an incredibly stupid thought experiment, but a short time ago I read that most of the "mass" in the proton was actually energy from the quarks and gluons, as opposed to the ...
7
votes
3answers
417 views

Is there only radial motion in the Hydrogen ground state?

The ground state of the Hydrogen atom is spherically symmetric. In other words, the wave function Psi depends only on the distance r of the electron from the nucleus. As a consequence all ...
7
votes
2answers
139 views

Why is salt so hard to remove from water?

Water molecules and various salt molecules are very different. However, it seems very difficult to separate the two. Once a salt is dissolved in water, an energy or chemical intensive method (like ...
7
votes
4answers
487 views

What's is the origin of Orbital Angular Momentum of electrons in atoms?

Consider the Hydrogen 1s electron. We know that, in the quantum picture, the electron isn't orbiting or rotating at all, rather we simply state that the electron is spread over the entire space with ...
7
votes
3answers
110 views

Experimentally Verifying a Clock's Accuracy

So recently one of my professors went off on a tangent, and we ended up discussing atomic clocks and how they work, which is something I've always been fascinated with and thoroughly enjoyed. But it ...
6
votes
2answers
646 views

Miniature Neutron Stars?

Is the nucleus of a carbon atom, for example, as dense as a neutron star? I read that neuton stars also contain protons. Thinking more broadly, are we surrounded by quadrillion of quadrillions of ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Can I steal your electron?

The following paragraph has been extracted from the Wikipedia (Atomic orbitals): Simple pictures showing orbital shapes are intended to describe the angular forms of regions in space where the ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

Intrinsic structure of electron

The electron contains finite negative charge.The same charges repel each other.What makes electron stable and why does it not burst? Is it a law of nature that the electron charge is the smallest ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

Darwin term and Zitterbewegung

I've noticed that in the discussion of the fine structure of Hydrogen atom standard QM texts claim that the Darwin term, which corrects energy of $\ell=0$ (or $s$-) states only, is related to the ...
6
votes
1answer
843 views

Is Palladium an exception?

I have been taught in school that atoms cannot have more than 8 electrons in the outer shell. Palladium atom's electron configuration is 2,8,18,18. Why isn't it 2,8,18,17,1 like the case of Platinum ...
6
votes
4answers
563 views

Origin of Rayleigh scattering

Is Rayleigh scattering simply the elementary result of scattering theory, that, at low energies (long wavelengths) the scattering is dominated by $s$-wave scattering?
5
votes
2answers
787 views

How does an electron “move” in an s-orbital?

I have read multiple answers on StackExchange about this question, but I wasn't able to find a concrete answer. Like other questions, the reason I ask about the s-orbital is because it has a zero ...
5
votes
5answers
1k views

What do we actually mean when we say that matter is a wave?

What do we actually mean when we say that matter is a wave? What does the wavelength of this matter wave indicate? The idea of a particle behaving like a wave is kinda incomprehensible to me. ...
5
votes
3answers
286 views

Do electrons in multi-electron atoms really have definite angular momenta?

Since the mutual repulsion term between electrons orbiting the same nucleus does not commute with either electron's angular momentum operator (but only with their sum), I'd assume that the electrons ...
5
votes
2answers
573 views

Why is there a factor of 1/2 in the interaction energy of an induced dipole with the field that induces it?

In this paper, there's the following sentence: ...and the factor 1/2 takes into account that the dipole moment is an induced, not a permanent one. Without any further explanation. I looked ...
5
votes
3answers
77 views

What happens inside a body when it rotates?

I'm studying rigid body dynamics lately. I came across the definition of torque, and though I've found a lot of explanations as to why there is an r there (the moment), all of them are mathematical ...
5
votes
1answer
149 views

Number of decays in a chain reaction

It is widely known that the probability of $n$ decays from one system to another $A \rightarrow B$ (e.g., electrons decaying from one atomic energy level to another or muons decaying into neutrinos ...
5
votes
1answer
241 views

Advanced atomic physics: From Liouville Equations to the Bloch equations

I'm trying to derive the Bloch equations from the Liouville equation. This should be possible according to this paper, where it discusses higher order Bloch equations (second order spherical tensors). ...
5
votes
0answers
93 views

Is it reasonable to interpret the Lamb shift as vacuum induced Stark shifts?

This is a pretty hand-wavy question about interpretation of the Lamb shift. I understand that one can calculate the Lamb shift diagrammatically to get an accurate result, but there exist ...
4
votes
4answers
185 views

How big is an excited hydrogen atom?

Suppose an empty universe with the exception of a single hydrogen atom (1 proton, 1 electron). The electron may be in its ground state or it may be excited a certain number of levels. Suppose it is at ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

Lasing in a 2-Level system?

What exactly is the difference between 2-Level, 3-Level and 4-Level systems? Why can we not achieve stimulated emission in a two-level system using optical pumping?
4
votes
3answers
3k views

What keeps electrons in an atom from flying away or falling into the nucleus?

In atoms, what force or charge, etc. keeps electrons from flying away or into their nucleus? is there a kind of weak-force at work on the atomic scale? Note I am aware the electron positions are ...
4
votes
2answers
262 views

Is the photon energy required to cause an atomic transition $\Delta E+\Delta KE$, where $\Delta E$ is the “transition energy”?

An atom "at rest" can absorb a photon, and while some of this energy goes into increasing the energy level of the electron, momentum must be conserved, and so some energy must also increase the ...
4
votes
1answer
104 views

What are relativistic and radiative effects (in quantum simulation)?

I'm reading about Quantum Monte Carlo, and I see that some people are trying to calculate hydrogen and helium energies as accurately as possible. QMC with Green's function or Diffusion QMC seem to be ...
4
votes
1answer
133 views

Anyons only in 2+1 spacetime dimensions - better explanation

Regrading why anyons exist only in 2+1 spacetime dimensions (which have an arbitrary phase on exchange), I read the reason that the paths for exchange in 3D are deformable into each other while in ...
4
votes
1answer
394 views

Why and how is nondegenerate perturbation theory used for time evolution under $\vec{L}.\vec{S}$ coupling?

Let us say that we start with an electron which is in a spin up state and has a spatial wave-function of the form $xf(r)$. Then one turns on a perturbation of the form ...
4
votes
2answers
614 views

Implementing simple atom model using density functional theory (DFT)

I am trying to write computer code which will find the energy and density function for an atom with $Z$ protons and $N$ electrons. I am working in 1D for simplicity and would like to make the overall ...