A nucleus made of protons and neutrons surrounded by a cloud of electrons equal in number to the protons.

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121
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3answers
12k views

How does a knife cut things at the atomic level?

As the title says. It is common sense that sharp things cut, but how do they work at the atomical level?
75
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5answers
17k views

What does it mean for two objects to “touch”?

If you've ever been annoyingly poked by a geek, you might be familiar with the semi-nerdy obnoxious response of "I'm not actually touching you! The electrons in the atoms of my skin are just ...
63
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8answers
7k views

Why does space expansion not expand matter?

REFORMULATED: I have looked at the other questions (ie "why does space expansion affect matter") but can't find the answer I am looking for. My question: There is always mention of space expanding ...
57
votes
9answers
22k views

Why don't electrons crash into the nuclei they “orbit”?

I'm having trouble understanding the simple "planetary" model of the atom that I'm being taught in my basic chemistry course. In particular, I can't see how a negatively charged electron can stay ...
48
votes
1answer
5k views

Is it possible to “see” atoms?

As per my knowledge, atoms are small beyond our imaginations. But there is an image on Wikipedia that shows silicon atoms observed at the surface of silicon carbide crystals. The image: How can we ...
46
votes
5answers
5k views

What enables protons to give new properties to an atom every time one is added?

How does adding one more particle to the nucleus of an atom give that atom new properties? I can see how it changes it's mass, that's obvious... But how does it give that new atom different properties ...
35
votes
3answers
5k views

Is it possible that every single isotope is radioactive, and isotopes which we call stable are actually unstable but have an extremely long half-life?

I've read that tellurium-128 has an half-life of $2.2 \times 10^{24}$ years, much bigger than the age of the universe. So I've thought that maybe every single isotope of every single atom are ...
34
votes
3answers
3k views

Can the solar system really fit in a thimble?

Almost every time somebody talks about atoms, at some point they mention something like this: If we remove the spaces between the atoms and atomic components, we can fit the solar system in a ...
32
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4answers
4k views

Are atoms unique?

Do atoms have any uniquely identifying characteristic besides their history? For example, if we had detailed information about a specific carbon atom from one of Planck's fingerprints, and could ...
32
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4answers
3k views

What really cause light/photons to appear slower in media?

I know that if we solve the Maxwell equation, we will end up with the phase velocity of light being related to the permeability and the permittivity of the material. But this is not what I'm ...
29
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4answers
4k views

Has gravity ever been experimentally measured between two atoms?

Has there been any experiments, or are there any references, demonstrating gravity between atoms? If so, what are the key experiments/papers? Or if not, what is the smallest thing that has actually ...
21
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3answers
3k views

Why isn't the color of a molecule a combination of the colors of its component atoms?

I was watching a documentary on youtube regarding Quantum Physics when it introduced the wavelengths of light emitted. Did a bit more research over the internet and I believe I understand the gist of ...
21
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3answers
1k views

Why do we need 12 atoms to store 1 bit of data?

Recent research at IBM has found a way to store 1 bit of data in 12 atoms. While that is a big accomplishment compared to what we have today, it does seem like a waste to a non-physics eye like me. ...
18
votes
4answers
697 views

Is the electromagnetic spectrum discrete?

I'm just starting to learn physics and I have a question (that is probably stupid.) I learned that energy levels that the bound electron can have are discrete. I also learned that when an electron ...
18
votes
11answers
4k 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
5answers
5k 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 ...
16
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2answers
5k views

Dumbed-down explanation how scientists know the number of atoms in the universe?

It is often quoted that the number of atoms in the universe is 10$^{70}$ or 10$^{80}$. How do scientists determine this number? And how accurate is it (how strong is the supporting evidences for ...
15
votes
1answer
2k views

Turned to steel in the great magnetic field

This is obviously a "fun" question, but I'm sure it still has valid physics in it, so bear with me. How great of a magnetic field would you need to transmute other elements into iron/nickel, if ...
11
votes
4answers
2k views

Why does amount of protons define how matter is?

My question might sound convoluted but my mind is twisting right now so my apologies in advanced. Why is it that when I have one proton and one electron it is Hydrogen a clear flammable gas, and ...
10
votes
3answers
504 views

Is hydrogen the same everywhere?

Silly thought. Feel free to shoot it down Does a hydrogen atom undergo any kind of change subject to it's environment? If one were to study a hydrogen atom on the surface of Mercury, another above ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the quantum mechanical explanation of the octet rule?

What is the quantum mechanical explanation of the octet rule? In other words, what makes the octet rule be true from a quantum mechanical view? How we explain what makes some atoms don't follow the ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

Do we really not know why atoms 'decide' to produce a photon?

I was watching the Cosmos documentary where Neil deGrasse Tyson explained how certain energy photons get absorbed by an atom, which causes the electrons of that atom to climb into a higher energy ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

Is the Mendeleev table explained in quantum mechanics?

Does anybody know if there exists a mathematical explanation of Mendeleev table in quantum mechanics? In some textbooks (for example in F.A.Berezin, M.A.Shubin. The Schrödinger Equation) the authors ...
8
votes
2answers
28k views

What is in the space between a nucleus of an atom and its electrons?

There is a common analogy about the structure of an atom, such as the nucleus is a fly in the centre of a sports stadium and the electrons are tiny tiny gnats circling the stadium (tip of the hat to ...
8
votes
4answers
3k views

How is it possible for objects to travel faster than the speed of sound when particles interact at the speed of sound

First of all, I am sorry if this is a stupid question but: I've heard that atoms interact with each other at the speed of sound (when you for instance push a chair, the atoms collide with each other ...
8
votes
2answers
940 views

The distance between touching objects

What is the distance between, say, a cup of coffee and the table it rests on? What is the distance between two touching hands?
8
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1answer
4k views

Why is carbon dating limit only 40,000 years?

For an example, when they tried to get the carbon dating for presence of Aboriginal people in Australia they get to the number 40,000. But it could be much earlier. Why is that 40,000 years limit for ...
8
votes
3answers
957 views

why dosen't a charged particle radiate energy in circular motion in a uniform magnetic field?

I have studied in my Physics course that one of the drawbacks of Rutherford's atomic model was that when an electron will revolve around the nucleus, it is undergoing acceleration and so it should ...
8
votes
2answers
6k views

How does electron move around nucleus?

I need to get a nice picture about how electron moves around nucleus? I find concept of probability and orbitals quite difficult to understand?
7
votes
5answers
724 views

Do orbitals overlap?

Yes, as the title states: Do orbitals overlap ? I mean, if I take a look at this figure... I see the distribution in different orbitals. So if for example I take the S orbitals, they are all just ...
6
votes
5answers
581 views

What is the simplest possible experiment that proves that there are atoms? [duplicate]

As I known all the matter consists of atoms. What is the simplest possible experiment (with as little scientific equipment as possible) that can prove that there are atoms?
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Why is Graphene Transparent?

Graphene is always in the news now a days and its key features are that it is; very strong, conductive and transparent. It is so transparent that each layer of graphene will only absorb 2% of Light ...
6
votes
2answers
693 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
3answers
4k views

Photon hitting an atom with higher energy than needed to ionize

Suppose we have an atom with several energy levels (e.g. an hydrogen), and it is hit by photons. I know that in order to have the atom change energy levels, the photon must have an energy level ...
6
votes
2answers
500 views

Why and how, in QED, can excited atoms emit photons?

The quantum mechanics of the structure of atoms as determined by the electromagnetic forces inside them correctly describes the location and coupling of the different energy levels in essentially all ...
6
votes
3answers
973 views

Graphene +1 extra carbon bond

I'm not a physicist just a curious mind, so please go easy! I was just watching a BBC Horizon Documentary that featured a piece on the recently discovered material Graphene. One of the facts ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

The Nucleus of an Atom

We know that the protons in a nucleus are positively charged, whereas the neutrons do not possess a charge; we also know that unlike charges attract. So why does the nucleus stay intact, even though ...
6
votes
2answers
1k 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
2answers
127 views

Why do $\beta$ particles not get attracted to the nucleus?

I currently have a very limited knowledge of how radiation works etc, but while sat in class the other day, one question occurred to me that even my teacher could not answer. We have been learning ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

Why do electrons in an atom 'fall' back to the ground state?

Why, after absorbing a photon does an atom's electron 'fall' back to its ground state (what causes it to immediately lose its absorbed energy)?
6
votes
2answers
516 views

Do the energy levels of electron orbitals change relativistically?

When an electron emits a photon from changing energy levels, the frequency of the photon depends on the difference between the energy levels. But if someone is moving with respect to the atom, the ...
5
votes
3answers
807 views

Why is a proton assumed to be always at the center while applying the Schrödinger equation?

Why is a proton assumed to be always at the center while applying the Schrödinger equation? Isn't it a quantum particle?
5
votes
4answers
1k views

Atomic mass of Copper-63?

This URL lists the mass of Copper-63 as 62.9295975(6) and this other URL lists the mass as 62.939598. These values differ by almost exactly 0.01 which seems hard to explain by experimental error. ...
5
votes
5answers
4k views

How can the nucleus of an atom be in an excited state?

An example of the nucleus of an atom being in an excited state is the Hoyle State, which was a theory devised by the Astronomer Fred Hoyle to help describe the vast quantities of carbon-12 present in ...
5
votes
5answers
2k views

Is there the smallest particle that can be guaranteed to be unable to be broken down into smaller particles?

Is there the smallest particle that can be guaranteed to be unable to be broken down into smaller particles?
5
votes
3answers
15k views

Why is the relationship between atomic number and density not linear?

What are the factors that affect the density of an atom?
5
votes
2answers
211 views

If mesons were stable could they form atoms?

if there were stable enough mesons similar to protons and neutrons could they capture electrons to form exotic elements. if not why is this not possible?
5
votes
2answers
847 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
385 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
897 views

Is it possible to recover the old Bohr-Sommerfeld model from the QM description of the atom by turning off some parameters?

Is it possible to recover the old Bohr-Sommerfeld model from the QM description of the atom by turning off some parameters? Can we use Ehrenfest's theorem (or some other scheme) to reduce the QM ...