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Now I know what you may be thinking, "buddy, do you realize that the quality of solid or liquid is Made by the sum total of atoms in a thing therefore an atom can't be a solid or liquid??" This, good people, is not what am asking exactly. My intended meaning is more accurately said like so:

How would touching a proton or neutron feel? Would it feel as hard as say a Steele NY building compressed into the size of a marble? Would it be metallic and slick? Would it feel as gelatin which cannot be bent? Or would it be translucent and untouchable such as a ghost? Using the current scientific model of the atom can you infer how it might feel to the senses?

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closed as off-topic by Red Act, Brandon Enright, Danu, JamalS, John Rennie Oct 15 '14 at 8:53

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "We deal with mainstream physics here. Questions about the general correctness of unpublished personal theories are off topic, although specific questions evaluating new theories in the context of established science are usually allowed. For more information, see Is non mainstream physics appropriate for this site?." – Red Act, Brandon Enright, Danu, JamalS, John Rennie
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ +1 I think this is actually a pretty good question, since you seem to be asking about a non-trivial property of atomic potentials and with the invention of atomic force microscopy we have ways of answering it even experimentally (if you don't mint that "your had" is another atom at the tip of a needle). $\endgroup$ – CuriousOne Oct 15 '14 at 2:14
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    $\begingroup$ Physics does not provide an answer to your question. There are multiple different ways for how a counterfactual nucleus-sized hand might interact with an atom, that depend on what set of scaling properties you are assuming for the shrinking hand. As it is, answerers are free to give different answers based on different interpretations and assumptions, and none of the different answers would be the "correct" one. $\endgroup$ – Red Act Oct 15 '14 at 2:19
  • $\begingroup$ I think people are over analyzing this one. The human brain and the ability to understand, well, anything is a result of imagined; images, physical quantities(mass, color, temputure, texture), inter relational quantities( function, rule or principle, orientation) and other purley human and imagined concepts, non of them really exsist however they represent reality. I think we are being too technical about the scenario, the fact is we need these electromagnetic pulses to be interpreted as imagined quantities in order to understand any and everything in our world so we should interprit... $\endgroup$ – Diamond Louis XIV Oct 15 '14 at 2:35
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    $\begingroup$ My question is not off topic, catagory "Non-mainstream". To imply this means that I ask for Personal theorization on a certain topic. What I ask for is to present the current model of the atom in a representable manner..eg through the senses. Not through creation of a new theory. As the meta link above quotes, "Explanations of observed physical or astronomical phenomena" are considered acceptable. Not only this another quote states: "a question that proposes a new concept or paradigm, but asks for evaluation of that concept within the framework of current (mainstream) physics is OK."....... $\endgroup$ – Diamond Louis XIV Oct 16 '14 at 3:00
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    $\begingroup$ ...And that is exactly what I do. I ask for a concept (perception), within the framework of current mainstream physics (the current model of the atom and it's qualities). For these reasons it is clear to see that this On-Hold is an abuse which should be immediately un-hindered and reopened for answering. $\endgroup$ – Diamond Louis XIV Oct 16 '14 at 3:05
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I think this is a very non-trivial question and I can't give you all the answers, but I can make a few general remarks. First of all, when atoms "touch", it's really their electronic orbitals overlapping. Those interactions are, of course, governed by quantum mechanics but it is very hard to solve multi-electron atoms and complete molecules with a completely quantum mechanical treatment the way we are solving the hydrogen problem. As it turns out, one can simplify the equations significantly and for many applications still get reasonable approximations by using so called mean-field potentials.

In its most simple implementation mean field theory assumes that one can average the quantum mechanical movement of electrons around nuclei and derive a classical potential for the effective force between the nuclei. The physical reason why this works reasonable well is that the nuclei are, on average, a couple thousand times heavier than the electrons, i.e. their movement is much slower than the time scale of the electronic wave function. As a consequence it can make sense to describe molecular binding by the average distances of their nuclei and to approximate the actual dynamics of electronic orbitals with a non-linear distance and angle dependent classical force.

In general even these mean field forces depend very strongly on distance between the nuclei and on angles (and to smaller extent on the spins of the electrons), which makes for a complex multi-dimensional potential.

The radial dependence of these potentials has two general properties: at short distances the electrostatic repulsion of the nuclei (and the electrons) will be very strong and the potential has to diverge to infinity. At infinite distance, however, there is no force between the molecules and the potential is zero. At some intermediate distance there may be a potential minimum, in which case a stable chemical bond of that length can form.

I think this is where your question comes into play. One could interpret the average molecular forces between the nuclei in form of a human "touch" sensation. At a distance one wouldn't feel anything, going closer there would either be a soft repulsion that would be getting stronger very quickly, or a stickiness, maybe similar to two magnets that are attracting each other, and eventually, even closer in, there would be a rather hard surface, which one could not penetrate.

The "surfaces" of these molecular orbitals would feel incredibly slippery, because there wouldn't be any friction and there would be a constant trembling from quantum mechanical fluctuations. Depending on the combination of molecular "fingertip" and "molecular ball", the balls would either stick or constantly trying to get away. And depending on the reaction energy of the sticky ones it could be very hard to impossible to remove them without also ripping off a "finger tip" or two! In short, we would get all of the variability of chemical reactions "at hand"! It would certainly be a wonderful tool for chemists to explore chemical potential landscapes like that and I think I have heard about some folks in the virtual reality department who are working on tools like that, but I would have to find the article.

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Protons and neutrons are not rigid objects, but are actually mostly empty space and made up of smaller particles named quarks than move inside them pretty fast. So, you would see a mostly empty gas. The quarks themselves could either have no size, or made up of smaller particles themselves, that is not know yet. If you chose an electron instead, current theories assume is a point particle, that is, it doesn't have any dimension so you could never shrink down to "see" it. This answer is very simplified and assumes that when you shrink you can still see and "touch" (which it doesn't really make any sense at that scale, but, anyways)

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  • $\begingroup$ You consider, too realistically the action of shrinking down and 'touching' the atom. Saying things like 'see' and 'touch' really just mean picture or imagine using known human quantities like color, mass orientation, temputure, viscosity...ect. Obviously it's ridiculous to assume one could actually maintain a human form at subatomic level, or see something in that state. However if someone told you to tell them what it might be like to fly through a building, would you say that, flying is impossible without propulsion and that hitting a wall would likely just crush you? Probably not $\endgroup$ – Diamond Louis XIV Oct 15 '14 at 3:01
  • $\begingroup$ I did however like and +1 your answer because you do quantify what it might be like to 'visit' an atom when you used words like; ridged, empty, small, and fast which is in essence what I wanted. Also, on the dimensions of and electron, visit this link for a study which found electrons to have a volume: phys.org/news/… $\endgroup$ – Diamond Louis XIV Oct 15 '14 at 3:06
  • $\begingroup$ thanks,I was aware of that, I am a physicist. In the article they are using simplified language to describe something different: An electron's shape refers to that of the cloud of so-called virtual particles thought to surround a dimensionless point. But my idea was to give some kind of answer that you can somehow grasp, not to be entirely precise because your question doesn't really make much sense unless you ignore many aspects of modern physics (which I did, and perhaps too much). $\endgroup$ – Wolphram jonny Oct 15 '14 at 3:42
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The feeling of touch is actually result of electromagnetic interactions between your hand and another object. When you "touch" a book, you're actually experiencing a repulsive force between the outermost layer of atoms and molecules on your hand, as well as the object you're touching. So, even if you could super-size an atom (which you can't), it's important to note that you still would not make physical contact with its constituent pieces; the electrons from the atom would be repelled by the electrons from the atoms in your hand.

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