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65

Wow, this one has been over-answered already, I know... but it is such a fun question! So, here's an answer that hasn't been, um, "touched" on yet... :) You sir, whatever your age may be (anyone with kids will know what I mean), have asked for an answer to one of the deepest questions of quantum mechanics. In the quantum physics dialect of High Nerdese, ...


30

One good piece of evidence that all particles of a given type are identical is the exchange interaction. The exchange symmetry (that one can exchange any two electrons and leave the Hamiltonian unchanged) results in the Pauli exclusion principle for fermions. It also is responsible for all sorts of particle statistics effects (particles following the ...


13

I think the best answer to your question is simply "because that's all we can see when we do experiments." That is, no matter how hard anyone tries or how much energy they toss into the processes, electrons and quarks show no signs of any appendages, surfaces, hair-like structures, bumps, volume, whatever. When you model them mathematically as points, the ...


13

Common sense of touching can be expressed in "scientific means" as an event when exchange-repulsion interaction between 2 objects (you and the geek) extends some arbitrary value, say 1meV. I leave finding an agreeable threshold which is easy to measure to later discussion. :)


11

The anti-particle corresponding to a neutron is an anti neutron! The neutron is made up of one up quark and two down quarks. The anti-neutron is made up of an anti-up quark and two anti-down quarks. Both have zero charge because the charges of the quarks within them balance out. You are correct that elementary particles with no charge are often their own ...


11

It is a very interesting question that allows to point out the differences between a Neutron Star and Nuclei. Although the dedicated article in Wikipedia Neutron Star fully covers the information, it is relevant to summarize here the elements. Nuclei are essentially different to Neutron Stars and some reasons are: Different bounding force: while Nuclei ...


10

Short answer: The space between the nucleus and the electron is not empty space, it is filled with an electron cloud. (You will understand this answer better if you read the long answer) Long answer: Firstly, physics is a description of what we can observe. Depending on the scale of which you are describing, physicists, over the years, have different ...


9

Long answer: Any Chemistry textbook. Short answer: The number of electrons of an atom is the same as the number of protons in the nucleus. This number of electrons (Identical to the position number in PSE!) defines all the chemistry of that atom.


8

As a useable heuristic I would go with something along the lines of the intermolecular forces between the surface molecules of the bodies are comparable to the scale of one-to-one intermolecular forces between nearby{*} molecules due to other components of the same body You could make it a little more strict by replacing "comparable to" with ...


8

Short answer: the strong nuclear force. The strong nuclear force binds nucleons (protons and neutrons) together. It is a very short-range force, which is why it only acts over distances on the scale of atomic nuclei. There is repulsion between the protons, which is why, as the number of protons goes up, more and more neutrons are required to stabilize the ...


8

The photon couples to all particles with electric charge or magnetic moment. This includes all of the quarks, the charged leptons $e,\mu,\tau$, and their antiparticles. It also includes particles composed of quarks and charged leptons: the proton and neutron (though the neutron only magnetically), the charged mesons, etc. Many electrically neutral mesons, ...


7

The nuclei of heavy elements (lead, gold, ...) approach the asymptotic density of extended nuclear matter (and therefore the density of neutron stars). The lighter elements do not. That said, it would be an error to refer to nuclei as "miniature neutron stars" because the binding force and dynamics are different. Nor are nuclei protected, shielded or held ...


7

Why three quarks? In very simple terms bound states of quarks (hadrons) have to be color neutral so that means either color quark + anticolor antiquark (mesons) or three quarks carrying R, G and B color charge respectively (baryons). (Note: There should also exist exotic particles like tetraquarks and pentaquarks but these haven't been observed yet and ...


7

From: NobelPrize.org "Her continued systematic studies of the various chemical compounds gave the surprising result that the strength of the radiation did not depend on the compound that was being studied. It depended only on the amount of uranium or thorium. Chemical compounds of the same element generally have very different chemical and physical ...


6

That's a great question! Unfortunately, the only honest answer is "that's what we see in nature, with great precision and complete reproducibility." There is no deep theoretical understanding. The more exotic form of your question is phrased in terms the self-energy of an electron, and it's a question that plagued Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman his entire ...


5

This is just a misunderstanding--- "no motion" in quantum mechanics is a different concept than "no motion" in classical mechanics. At zero temperature, nothing stops. Spherical uncharged black holes don't stop particles at the singularity, they absorb particles and time just ends at the singularity for the infalling matter. The wavefunctions are not made to ...


5

Does the fact that protons and neutrons have larger mass than electrons mean they're bigger in size? No. The electron and muon are both believed to be "point-like" (which really means smaller than we can measure" despite having $\frac{m_\mu}{m_e} \approx 200$. That is not to say the proton isn't bigger---it is---but that mass does not imply size in any ...


4

To begin with electrons are not composite. It is baryons and hadronic resonances that are composites of quarks. Hadrons are held together by the strong forces between quarks. These forces, in contrast to the electromagnetic ones which fall with distance as 1/r^2 (and thus allow us to detect free electrons, whose potential falls like 1/r), they behave ...


4

How is it possible to see/detect a probability density wave ? It isn't possible. The image is a visualization of an interference pattern from which the nodal structure of the orbital can be inferred. From a Physics World article: In the new work, Aneta Stodolna, of the FOM Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics in the Netherlands, along with ...


4

I can't give a complete answer because it seems there is still some research ongoing. Unlike what most people have been taught, water is not colorless. At least, large masses of water will be seen blue, such as the sea or a swimming pool. (Left: tube if filled with (light) water. Right: empty tube.) The fact is that water absorbs mostly the red ...


4

You apply a (net) force (i.e. push it). Recall that the generalized version of Newton's 1st law is that force is proportional to the rate of change in momentum: $$ \vec{F} = \frac{\mathrm{d} \vec{p}}{\mathrm{d}t} \,,$$ or in the language of impulse ($J$) $$ \vec{J} = \Delta\vec{p} = \langle \vec{F} \rangle \Delta t \,,$$ with $\langle \rangle$ meaning ...


4

The pion does indeed annihilate into photon pairs. But it is an EW process, so the lifetime is large and the pion is long lived. Actually, setting EW couplings to zero the pion would be stable since there would be no lighter hadron it could decay into.


4

Your teacher is referring to the LCAO approximation as a way of calculating molecular orbitals. Suppose you bring two hydrogen atoms together i.e. create a hydrogen molecule. To calculate the electronic structure you need to solve the Schrodinger equation, but even for something as simple as the hydrogen molecule the Schrodinger equation is too complex to ...


4

It's a very good question. The electron is described by a wave field which resembles a charge distribution, so it is natural to wonder why it doesn't repel itself and spread out all over. However, the wave is not a classical wave but is quantized, i.e. the energy in a given vibration mode has to come in discrete bundles. One can count how many excitations ...


4

Your day to day experience of the material world is governed by chemistry. This is at some level the science of atoms and groups of atoms. Things like hardness, colour, toxicity and others are all largely determined by the interaction of atoms. In particular the outer coating of atoms, the electrons. Obviously the details of why element or compound A is ...


4

Maybe one should add to the analysis of @QEntanglement and the nice electron probability clouds in the illustrations in the other answers, that also the space between the nucleus and the electrons is teaming with the exchange of virtual particles between the electrons and the nucleus, necessary to create the potential which determines the energy levels of ...


4

An elementary particle is not like a billiard ball at a very small scale. You yourself state i know sometimes it behaviors like a wave, but it sometimes can be seen as a particle. This statement does not apply to macroscopic particles, it applies to microscopic quantum mechanical entities when the dimensions become equal or smaller than a billionth ...


3

When physicists perform particle collisions, they do not execute them one collision at a time. Rather, they perform millions of collisions within very short time frames and they use state of the art computers to analyze and decipher the copious amounts of data they receive. That being said, to isolate a particle such as a proton, it is as simple as ...


3

First, there is no universal inequality that would say that materials have to be "paramagnets". The opposite effects imply that materials may also be "diamagnets" which means that they react oppositely to the magnetic field. I think that atoms and molecules are the smallest objects whose response to the magnetic field may be viewed as the microscopic cause ...


3

This is very legitimate question for something we usually take for granted. I think it would be possible to define macroscopically touching as the situation, in which the total force between two electrically neutral rigid bodies is larger than pure gravitational (for some measurable value). The difference is of course the normal component of the surface ...



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