Suppose I place a lighter on a wooden table, the lighter has a weight, so it wants to go down, but the table exerts a normal force on it, preventing it from going down trough the table, so the lighter does not move. We can say that this is consistent with Newton's first principle of dynamics, in fact the normal force is equal and opposite to the weight force of the lighter, so the net sum of the forces is zero.
But where does the normal force comes from? What implies the presence of a normal force? Well, at a subatomic level the atoms of the lighter and the atoms of the table get really close together and repel each other thanks to the electromagnetic force.
Great! But suppose that now I remove the lighter from the table and place on it an heavy object made of steal, with approximately the same dimension of the lighter. In this case, assuming that the table does not break, the heavy steal object will stay still just like the lighter lighter (fun). Ok, but this implies that in this case the normal force is greater, because it has to equal in module the weight of the steal object.
Note that in both cases the atoms of the object do not "touch" the atoms of the table, they simply get repelled and "hover" at a certain small distance from the atoms of the table.
My question is: In both cases the distance between the atoms of the object and the atoms of the table is the same? Or in the case of an heavier object the distance becomes smaller? Or, since we are talking about subatomic interaction, makes no sense at all to talk about distances between objects?
I was thinking that since in one case the normal force is smaller and in another case the normal force is greater, but the table and the surface of interaction remain the same, then something must change, a change in configuration of the system has to occur in order to motivate a change in the interaction force.