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I was thinking the other day about how the empty space in an atom is relatively huge, but I was wondering, is it really empty space? Originally I just assumed it was a vacuum and that was it, but that just posed more questions. Please will somebody explain to me what is in the "empty" space of an atom? Sorry if the question isn't entirely clear; I'm only 16 and just completed my GCSEs (so please try to keep the answer fairly basic)!!

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    $\begingroup$ There is no "empty space" in an atom. Due to the quantum nature of electrons, they are smeared out over the whole atom. The Bohr model is close to being pure fiction (and should not be taught in school anymore). Furthermore, why should a vacuum in between things be a problem ... there is nearly a vacuum between the planets. $\endgroup$ May 26, 2015 at 22:39
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    $\begingroup$ Sad but true, most probably because most science educators are not up-to-date (but rather 80 years in the past). $\endgroup$ May 26, 2015 at 22:44
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    $\begingroup$ If you type into the Google search bar, "how much of an atom is empty space", the first result as well as other results will tell you almost all of it is empty space. Is this just the internet not being able to keep up with scientific advances? I'm confused. Also, I never complained about the empty space, I just said it poses more questions. $\endgroup$
    – VVLP
    May 26, 2015 at 22:49
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    $\begingroup$ What questions are raised? – Well, the internet keeps up in some places, and not in others, the number of good physicists is small compared to the number of people doing popular science on the internet google just puts sites first that are linked often, these are not necessarly the sites with the highest signal-to-noise-ratio. $\endgroup$ May 26, 2015 at 22:51
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    $\begingroup$ Sebastian Riese has it 100% right, the public is, at least, 80 years behind in physics and so is high school education. Unfortunately, even the folks who know better, our own theoretical "stars" are still publishing books for laymen with material that is woefully outdated and that they would not dare teaching at the university level. $\endgroup$
    – CuriousOne
    May 26, 2015 at 22:56

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There is no such empty space as such in an atom. The Rutherford model of particle nature is a historic model now. After Rutherford model De broglie's hypothesis came giving us the wave nature of quantic component and how it has both particle and wave nature eg. Photon. Later on Schrödingers wave equation gave us the concept of wave function and probability distribution , which leads the conclusion that electron distribution are much more like an wave where we can find the probablity of their existence in it and they are at random can have any place.the wavefunction representing the behavior of moving particles in specified position and times describe it though in other position it's less likely to have the particle and that's why magnitude of the wave function is small else where. But No its not free space at all. I think Google answered your question with respect to Rutherford model or they have talked about forbidden zone between two energy states. And I think quantum theory is not included in secondary school syllabus but in high school in (11th and 12th class) you should have the basics of quantum theory. And I can't deny if the evolution of physics from classical to quantum is to incorporate in students they have to start from the basics and history. I will recommend you to look at physics books by Halliday resnick. And if you want to start from high level go for "Quantum Physics" by Eisberg and Resnick. Though it's for under graduate students, you can understand it clearly as it covered the whole history also. And language is very lucid. But to understand it you should have idea of basic calculus.

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