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113
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3answers
10k 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?
70
votes
5answers
16k 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 ...
21
votes
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 ...
14
votes
3answers
955 views

Why is the bottom part of a candle flame blue?

What’s the explanation behind the bottom part of a candle flame being blue? I googled hard in vain. I read this. I don’t understand how it’s explained by the emission of excited molecular radicals in ...
9
votes
4answers
421 views

Can we detect whether food has previously been heated in a microwave oven?

An acquaintance told me that she refuses to eat microwaved food because she read that the microwave changes the molecules of the food somehow. Her statement is vague and her sources are dubious but I ...
8
votes
2answers
821 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
votes
2answers
317 views

Why isn't in counting the no. of degrees of freedom, rotation about the axis running down the length of the molecule counted?

I was reading about the Equipartition Theorem. Then I got the following quotations from my books: A diatomic molecule like oxygen can rotate about two different axes. But rotation about the axis ...
8
votes
4answers
765 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
414 views

What is the microscopic picture for warm air rising?

The usual explanation for warm fluids rising past cooler ones is that the warmer fluid has a lower density. I'm trying to understand what this looks like at a molecular scale. The density seems to ...
8
votes
1answer
212 views

Are Born-Oppenheimer energies analytic functions of nuclear positions?

I am looking for references to bibliography that explores the smoothness and analyticity of eigenvalues and eigenfunctions (and matrix elements in general) of a hamiltonian that depends on some ...
7
votes
1answer
2k views

What happens when you shake a can of soda?

Of course the CO2 comes out of the liquid, and it will even build up a lot of pressure if needed. The question is what happens at a molecular level to cause it to leave the liquid?
7
votes
2answers
4k views

How to construct the Hamiltonian matrix?

I'm trying to understand if there's a more systematic approach to build the matrix associated with the Hamiltonian in a quantum system of finite dimension. For example, I know that for the ammonia ...
7
votes
2answers
862 views

What is the “direction” of the transition dipole moment? (Understanding Eq. 9.29, Charge and Energy Transfer 3rd Ed, May & Kuhn)

For a real vector $\mathbf{r}$, the direction is given by: $\hat{\mathbf{n}}=\mathbf{r}/\left|\mathbf{r}\right|$. The transition dipole moment is a complex vector. How do you define its direction? ...
6
votes
4answers
966 views

Can a single molecule have a temperature?

A show on the weather channel said that as a water molecule ascends in the atmosphere it cools. Does it make sense to talk about the temperature of a single molecule?
6
votes
1answer
465 views

Gas kinetic representation of trans-critical conditions

From a molecular point of view, can we think of the super-critical conditions as conditions where T and p are large enough that the collisions of gas molecules are frequent and powerful enough to ...
5
votes
4answers
650 views

Why is quantum physics needed to explain photosynthesis?

Why is quantum physics needed to explain photosynthesis? In what aspect does the corresponding classical theories for photosynthesis fail?
5
votes
1answer
2k views

Why does a breeze of wind make us feel cooler? [duplicate]

In my Astronomy class, I learned that temperature results from the speed of air molecules colliding into your skin. Thus, if the air molecules in the room have a high kinetic energy and thus collide ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Does gas spread out equally everywhere?

An excerpt from this page: Gases can fill a container of any size or shape. It doesn't even matter how big the container is. The molecules still spread out to fill the whole space equally. That is ...
5
votes
4answers
2k views

Water in vacuum (or space) and temperature in space

So, water in vacuum will boil first and then freeze. I don't know how the freeze happens. As pressure lowers to zero, what happened to freezing point? (I know heat taken by vapor, and the water cool ...
5
votes
1answer
955 views

How the bond angle of a water molecule is measured?

How the angle of a water molecule is measured? The bond angle for water was first determined by vibrational and rotational analysis of its infrared absorption spectra. How is bond angle extracted?
5
votes
3answers
780 views

Is photon emission possible without electrons changing energy levels?

Does molecular vibrational transition and consequent emission of infrared radiation involve electrons changing energy level? In wikipedia, about vibronic transitions it says "Most processes leading to ...
4
votes
1answer
106 views

For how long must a molecule remain stable to be considered “stable”?

In the Star Trek: Voyager episode The Omega Directive, Seven of Nine says that the Borg synthesized a molecule which was "kept [] stable for one trillionth of a nanosecond before it destabilized". ...
4
votes
2answers
198 views

What methods exist to calculate the density of states in the continuum of a molecule?

Say I have an arbitrary molecule in the Born-Oppenheimer approximation, and furthermore say that I can approximate the molecule as having only one active electron. What methods exist to calculate the ...
4
votes
1answer
78 views

What is the resonant frequency of liquid water?

I learned it's not 2.45 GHz. But what is it, then? In my failure to find the real value, I'm starting to wonder: does it even make sense talking about a resonant frequency of water molecules?
4
votes
2answers
146 views

Why is it energetically favourable for molecular bonds to form from a QM point of view?

For example, if you have two hydrogen atoms and an oxygen atom, they are all electrically neutral and don't attract each other. But then if they manage to get "close enough" somehow they snap together ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Where does the Pauli Repulsive Force come from that counteracts the attraction between atoms and ions? [duplicate]

I'm learning about such things as ionic and covalent bonds, and the reason given for the ionic bonds is electrostatic attraction. However, if that were true, then the two ions would accelerate toward ...
4
votes
1answer
265 views

What's the underlying particle physics of endothermic reactions?

I don't just mean reactions that require heat to proceed, storing surplus energy in chemical bonds. I wonder about strongly endothermic reactions that suck heat out of environment. You take some ...
4
votes
0answers
246 views

Electron hopping among molecules - Marcus equation

I'm running out of professors to talk to, and I need to clarify a couple of things for the sake of making a realistic model of electron travel through a mesh. This is about calculations of electron ...
3
votes
2answers
130 views

Time-dependence in LCAO

I would like to study time-dependence (TD) in linear combinations of atomic orbitals (LCAO). The Hückel method enables quick and dirty determination of MOs for suitable systems (view link for ...
3
votes
3answers
182 views

How to understand this symmetry in the wavefunctions of a diatomic molecule?

In Wikipedia (and elsewhere), a particular symmetry of the quantum system of a diatomic molecule is mentioned: symmetry under reflection along a plane containing the internuclear axis. The ...
3
votes
4answers
458 views

Molecule vs Crystal

Feynman mentions in his lectures: ...the concept of a molecule of a substance is only approximate and exists only for a certain class of substances. It is clear in the case of water that the ...
3
votes
1answer
81 views

Using the fine structure constant to measure atomic and molecular sizes

This is kind of a coursework question but it bring up some really interesting things about the fine structure constant $\alpha$ so I wanted to post it to not only make sure I understood something but ...
3
votes
2answers
457 views

How to determine what an object is composed of?

Heads up: This question has never been asked (here) before the way I will ask it here, so let's shed some light on it a bit. Prelude and anecdote(can be skipped): The other day I was walking home, ...
3
votes
1answer
68 views

Will a gas keep forever in a “perfect” flask?

I've been wondering about the porosity of materials, I know that, for example the air comes out of tires/balloons because (besides having huge gaps on the rim contact area/knot) they are made of a ...
3
votes
1answer
6k views

Why is oxygen in a triplet state and what are the consequences?

From Wikipedia here and here: ''Almost all molecules encountered in daily life exist in a singlet state, but molecular oxygen is an exception.'' ''The unusual electron configuration prevents ...
3
votes
3answers
3k views

Does stirring water in a bucket in whirlpool keeps it warm?

I did an experiment when I was a teenager. I want to prove/see what really went on in that experiment. When taking a bath, take a warm water in bucket and start taking a bath. You will notice that ...
3
votes
1answer
47 views

Why is the photoelectric absorption coefficient finite at the threshold frequency?

I mean the photoelectric effect of the hydrogen atom. It is weird. By the Fermi golden rule, the transition or absorption rate is proportional to the density of the final states. At threshold, the ...
3
votes
1answer
49 views

If we cut an object in half and touch the two halves together, why do the bonds not reform automatically?

A friend recently posed this question to me: let us take an arbitrary object and cut it into two pieces (not necessarily equal in any way). If we touch the two pieces back together so the object ...
3
votes
1answer
136 views

Measuring Atomic Radius of a Noble Gas

How exactly can you measure the atomic radius of a noble gas such as Neon or Helium accurately? Would liquefaction help? I also heard that the aforementioned gases are the only common elements which ...
3
votes
1answer
99 views

What methods exist for us to measure the position and momentum of atoms that make up molecules?

In this paper, Localization of an atom by homodyne measurement. A. M. Herkommer et al. Quantum Semiclass. Opt. 8 no. 1, p. 189 (1996) (paywalled). the authors are able to localize atoms using ...
3
votes
1answer
137 views

Experiment to find structure of water

Who first determined the structure of water (two hydrogen atoms stuck to an oxygen atom at approx 105 degrees), and, more importantly, how was this done?
3
votes
2answers
155 views

What is the difference between the shapes of molecules with different isotopes

I'll explain my question on example of water molecule. Let us have three water molecules: normal water $H_2 O$, heavy water $D_2 O$ and semiheavy water $HDO$. Is there any difference between the ...
3
votes
1answer
106 views

Relative weights in rotational bands of symmetric diatomic molecules

In an old paper, Ehrenfest 1931, the introduction starts off as follows: The band spectra of symmetric diatomic molecules show certain striking differences from those of asymmetric molecules. For ...
3
votes
0answers
90 views

What is a covalent bond?

What is a covalent bond, quantum mechanically? How does it hold the two atoms together, and at one point can you qualify the electron as being shated between two atoms, versus feeling attractive ...
2
votes
2answers
920 views

Why is there a Global Minimum for the Morse Potential?

For Diatomic molecules, the Morse potential describes their potential energy as a function of separation distance between the two particles. My question is, what is the explanation of of the dip ...
2
votes
3answers
492 views

How do the molecules of reacting compounds proceed to form “Most Stable” molecule?

This question is a cross post from chemistry. I'm not very convinced with the answer there. So, I'm posting it here. I'm tutoring few students for Chemistry. During the course, I many times use the ...
2
votes
2answers
118 views

What are some molecules stable in outer space that are unstable under terrestrial conditions?

What are some molecules stable in outer space that are unstable under terrestrial conditions? So there are many molecules that violently react on Earth because they're too charged, have unfilled ...
2
votes
1answer
497 views

How fast do molecules move in objects?

I guess it depends on the heat or the type of the material but can you give some examples or formulas to calculate it ? The best example would be the average speed of the air molecules (all types in ...
2
votes
2answers
7k views

How to estimate the physical size of a molecule?

I'm reading some chemistry-related papers that employ concepts of droplet evaporation. Since I am no chemist, I am wondering: How can I estimate the actual size of a molecule, say succinic acid? An ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

Is the molecule of hot water heavier than that of cold water?

We know that the molecule of hot water($H_2O$) has more energy than that of cold water (temperature = energy) and according to Einstein relation $E=mc^2$ ,this extra energy of the hot molecule has a ...