At the macroscopic level, we are all quite familiar with the concept of a physical surface.
From wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surface_(topology)
In mathematics, a surface is a geometrical shape that resembles to a deformed plane. The most familiar examples arise as boundaries of solid objects in ordinary three-dimensional Euclidean space ...
The concept of a "boundary of a solid object" becomes quite hazy at a subatomic level - so can anyone explain how we would define a physical surface at that scale ?
For my understanding, perhaps it would be best if someone could unpack the following scenario in terms of the fundamental interactions:
A hammer strikes the head of a nail and drives it into a block of wood.
At the subatomic level, what do we mean by:
- the "surface of the head of the hammer" and
- the "surface of the head of the nail"
At the subatomic level, in terms of the fundamental forces/interactions:
- how exactly is the momentum transferred from the hammer to the nail
I found this explanation which satisfies me partially - but that isn't the whole picture:
Subatomic particles don't collide in the same way as macroscopic objects like billiard balls: they do not literally touch one another. Instead, as two subatomic particles approach one another they exchange force-carrying bosons (photons, gluons, W or Z particles) with each other. This is what enables them to interact and scatter off of one another. ~ Elizabeth H. Simmons, Particle Theorist, Dean, and Physics Professor at Michigan State University
What I am trying to understand exactly is:
What do the surfaces of the hammer and nail head look like at this level ?
Are they well defined boundaries, or are they "clouds of subatomic particles" that interact or are exchanged at a certain proximity ?