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I have been spending time thinking about atoms with an open mind. In general, I am trying to think of atomic and molecular physics in terms of pure magnetism. I am going to explain my train of thought and, of course, I am receptive to the possibility that I am completely wrong on all counts. I truly wish to understand how things work.

A proton is positive, an electron is negative, and a neutron has a 'net-zero' charge. This is an axiom. However, the last bit, while true, is somewhat deceptive -- the implication being that it has no role in terms of magnetism. If a neutron is an electron and proton combined (as evident by mass comparison), then why is it not thought of as a bipolar magnet. A magnet has a net-zero charge as +1 + -1 = 0, but saying that a bipolar magnet has no magnetic effect is, obviously, a fallacy.

So let's assume that the neutron is a bipolar magnet for a bit here... Would the neutron not play a significant role in forming the shape of the atom? Is this what keeps the electrons and protons apart? Is this what creates all of the electron shells? Are neutrons the connectors when atoms form together into molecules? Do the number of neutrons directly affect the 'frequency' of the atoms?

Let's think about tritium, an isotope of hydrogen. With 2 'extra' neutrons, hydrogen becomes a 'radioactive' atom, giving off light. Is this because the frequency (as in hertz) is directly affected by the number of neutrons in the atom, in this case raising the frequency into the realm of visible light?

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closed as off-topic by Jon Custer, StephenG, ZeroTheHero, David Z Nov 8 '17 at 23:10

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If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ "A proton is positive, an electron is negative, and a neutron is 'net-zero' in terms of magnetic polarity. This is an axiom." - an axiom of your system? It's certainly not an axiom of particle physics. $\endgroup$ – Alfred Centauri Nov 8 '17 at 20:22
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    $\begingroup$ "If a neutron is an electron and proton combined" - it isn't according to all that we know. $\endgroup$ – Alfred Centauri Nov 8 '17 at 20:23
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    $\begingroup$ Nuclear and atomic physicists regularly make use of the magnetic properties of neutrons. $\endgroup$ – dmckee Nov 8 '17 at 20:24
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    $\begingroup$ Also, see for example Neutron Decay - "A neutron is not made of a proton, electron and an antineutrino. These particles are only its decay products. A neutron is made of 3 quarks, one up quark, and 2 down quarks and many many "intermediate particles" called gluons which carry the interaction between the quarks. These gluons are exchanged very often, so the quarks feel each of other. " $\endgroup$ – Alfred Centauri Nov 8 '17 at 20:32
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    $\begingroup$ -1. This is not a suitable site for discussing personal theories about physics. If you wish to understand atomic and particle physics, there are plenty of resources already on the internet, and on this site. $\endgroup$ – sammy gerbil Nov 8 '17 at 20:41
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...the implication being that it has no role in terms of magnetism. If a neutron is an electron and proton combined (as evident by mass comparison), then why is it not thought of as a bipolar magnet.

This is incorrect on many levels. The neutron has no net charge but a non-zero magnetic moment, dispelling your claim that "it has no role in terms of magnetism". Moreover, deep ineleastic scattering experiments are compatible with the accepted quark structure of the neutron and incompatible with your claim of a putative composite system of "electron and proton combined".

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This is completely wrong:

If a neutron is an electron and proton combined

it's simply not. There's no useful sense in which that can be put forward. That said,

then why is it not thought of as a bipolar magnet?

It is thought of like that. Wikipedia lists its magnetic dipole moment as one of its key properties, and it has a dedicated page for it. There is no meaningful sense in which modern physics "ignores" the dipolar magnetic properties of the neutron.

That said,

Would the neutron not play a significant role in forming the shape of the atom? Is this what keeps the electrons and protons apart? Is this what creates all of the electron shells?

No, it does not play a significant role, because the nucleus is too small, and because magnetic interactions are completely dominated by the electrostatic interaction between the nonzero charges of the electrons and the protons. This is a clear consequence of "all of the complicated equations and theories" which you cavalierly "put aside"; you only get to do that if you then take the results at face value and without questioning. If you want to ask anything more, then it's all in those equations that you don't like.

What we get from those equations regarding the role of nuclear magnetism is that they do have a determining role in hyperfine structure, which is less important than fine structure, which is itself a detail on the overall structure of the electron shells. It does have an effect, and it has been calculated to any degree you care to name. It's just much less important than a lot of other stuff.

More generally, you seem to be confusing the structure of atoms with the structure of nuclei: the former is primarily about the dynamics of the electrons around the nucleus, while the latter is where the neutron gets to play. The radioactivity of tritium you mention in your last paragraph is an example of nuclear physics, not atomic physics. (And, moreover, tritium doesn't "give off visible light", it produces beta radiation and to the extent that beta lights produce light it's because of the use of a phosphor.)

And as for nuclear structure, the magnetic properties of the neutron do play a role, in determining the nuclear shells, though they're generally overriden by the strong nuclear force.

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Positively charged protons electrically repulse from each other. What holds them in the nucleus is the residual strong force that can be described as an exchange of virtual pions between protons and neutrons. Each proton and neutron consist of 3 quarks. The pion consist of a quark and anti-quark. The exchange of pions with neutrons holds protons in the nucleus and prevents them from flying apart. So neutrons are critical constituents of common matter, although not specifically because of their magnetic properties. This animation from Wikipedia shows the pion exchange in progress:

enter image description here

When the number of neutrons in the nucleus is too much different from the number of protons, they may not hold together as strong and the isotope becomes radioactive. Here you can see the full Table of Nuclides with the number of protons and neutrons listed. Notice that the stable isotopes (in gray) tend to be in the middle.

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