Broadcaster wrote: Atom and its nuclei are very similar to the planets
No; they're very, very
different. Quantum and Newtonian physics bear precious little similarity, and the solar system as a "basic model" of the atom is actually a very poor
Planets obey Newton's laws; gravitational attraction. Very simple. Inverse square law. Mass times mass divided by distance, squared. But atom obey only the quite weird (but wonderful) laws of quantum mechanics. Particles are essentially waves; best desribed as. They're not solid things, like planets. They aren't little lumps of matter; though they all have well-defined energies and spins.
Electrons do not orbit the nucleus in the same fashion as planets orbit the sun, at all. They do orbit, owing to electrical attractive - nucleus is positive, electrons are negative - but more like 'as a cloud'. And saying *where* one is, is impossible. At best, you can say only where it probably
Unlike planets, electrons jump
, from orbit to orbit, apparently instantly. And unlike our solar system, a high energy orbital is complex; it looks like a donut with two lobes coming from opposite side of the hole, or 'can't it' part, for a highly energized (hot) atom. Atoms behave nothing like
how planets behave.
A planet can move to *any* other position, at least temporarily. Same as we put a satellite at any altitude. But in atoms, no orbit "in between" a lower and higher energy state is possible. For an electron, an "in between" state - between a lower and higher quantum or energy state - is actually forbidden
. It can be here...or there...but not
somewhere in between.
The quantum realm is all unitary, or 1/2, but not other fractions of. It's difficult to grasp because it's so unlike
the macroscopic world we're familiar with. But very beautiful
. Both intellectually, and even with ones eyes. All it takes is a gas, heated to a high temperature, and a prism, to break up the light from it, to see the beautiful, beautiful narrow lines of ultra-pure
colors, in a spectrograph.
Why such pure
colors in such narrow lines? That's the energy states. The electrons release photons (light) at a specific frequency or energy, when they drop from a higher to a lower energy state, or orbital. Multiple lines in a spectrogram, because unlike a planet - which can have any number of satellites - there can be a maximum of only so many electrons per orbital. So the bands of different very pure colors are photons released from different orbitals, as the electrons adjust to their new energy state.
If it wasn't quantum, the light given off by a heated gas would be smeared out, as a broad spectrum of colors; continuous. But it's quantum, meaning it can be this value, or that; nothing else. You can actually see
it, so easily.
So needless to say...physicists soon knew: that's it. Electrons jumps
, in atoms, from one state to another. And thus was born...quantum mechanics. It started with intuition - from things like seeing
how aa hot gas appeared, when they look at it through a prism - then they developed math to explained the lines of pretty colors. (Math that matched what they could see, exactly.)
Add photons (energy), an electron jumps (instantly) to a higher state. The known orbitals are a sphere, a bigger sphere, a donut, and finally, in a big, or really excited
atom - ooh, it's found a girlfriend! - a donut with two lobes. (I won't get any more explicit than that.)
The electron is somewhere in that 'cloud', of probability. But they define its position as only within a 'probability cloud'. The shape of the orbital is the highest probability. Outside it: low probability. Basically...never there. Why such a bizarre shape as a donut with two lobes? They dunno. It's just how an atom is.
We can know, for a thousand years from now, quite accurately, where our moon will be, relative to the earth, on a specific date, at a specific time. We can predict lunar eclipses (or solar eclipses) well into the future. None of that's possible with atoms, because they have their own unique, very strange
Like...if an atom spits out two electrons or photons at the same time, in being ionized (or cooled), their spins are always opposite
. It seems that if those two electrons or photons were transported to opposite sides of our universe
...and the spin of one electron was flipped...the other would flip, instantly
. That's called entanglement; they know it's real. Since the 1930's: tested again and again in modern lab experiments, and proven to be real
. But no physicist on earth can yet explain why
How is the information communicated between those two particles...at apparently infinitely greater than the speed of light? No one knows!
Basically, 'quantum' means a very precise
way of seeing atoms...but so much of it is still beyond anyone's rational comprehension. And even the brightest and most able physicists admit it. Feynman was one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists of modern times, but even he took the position that anyone who professes to undertand
quantum mechanics is kidding you.
Still, they do know very well
what the laws governing atoms are. Why
they are as they are...that's a whole other ballgame.
Masses and distance...planets...easy to understand. Quantum...whoa! Stories by Charlie Dodgson. The wabbit and the hole that Alice went down...to get her mind bent.
Quantum mechanics is way
weirder than the Mad Hatter tea party. It's a like a Mad Hatter tea party where the tea isn't tea. It's all made from hallucinogens. You got your LSD tea...your peyote tea...your nice herbal mari-ja-wanna tea...etc. Imbine some...then hit a book on quantum mechanics...and it will absorb itself into your head! Not for sure
, but better chance, with such some nifty such refreshments.
Then there's the really
weird that happens when a collection of atoms are cooled to close to absolute zero. A bunch of atoms become...just like one
big spooky single
Not trying to steal your thunder, Broadcaster. Just describing it as I learned it. It's not at all like how planets behave. The term 'orbit' is what misleads many people into thinking...it must be similar to how planets go around the sun. But actually it isn't. And in fact, that's what's led to conundrum in physics; they haven't yet succeeded in linking the two very different realms. Gravity remains beyond their understanding. The other three known forces - strong nuclear, weak nuclear and electromagnetic - can all be derived from one large complex equation, known as the "master equation". But gravity - ironically the weakest of the four known forces in nature - no. It still defies our comprehension. There's been no particle for it - or graviton - discovered, in other words.
Here's (by far) *the* weirdest thing I've ever learned, from physics. Matter-energy - everything know, as "the universe" - is considered to be positive energy (mass can all be converted into energy, it's a different form of the same thing); and gravity is considered to be negative
energy. Add the two together...the universe...which came from nothing
...is still nothing
. +1 -1 = 0. Ya! It's still nothing
!!!! It's never stopped
being nothing, actually. Did you folks silly figure different?
It's all stuff straight out of The Twilight Zone
. Thank you. I'm Rod Serling and you've just gotten some twilight physics