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Thread: ReMakeIt - Do Atoms Exist?

  1. #1 ReMakeIt - Do Atoms Exist? 
    Forum Sophomore ReMakeIt's Avatar
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    Hello, I find the discussion on this page very interesting. It coincides with some of the research I have been doing lately. I am a chemist from the University of Washington '05. In addition I have spent a great deal of time studying math.

    Do atoms exist? What does that question mean?

    To really have a discussion like this we need to define atom first.

    The Greeks used the word atom since it meant indivisible. As time progressed, it adapted to mean, 'a fundamental, indivisible building block of nature.' And the modern meaning is, formally,

    The atom is a basic unit of matter that consists of a dense central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons. (1)

    If this definition agrees with you, please read on.

    In my third year of study at the university, I was studying the physical chemistry which introduced me to the concepts of quantum mechanics. I have done calculations of waveforms by hand without a calculator and it really took a lot of the beauty and magic of science away. Probability clouds and wave particle duality were seeds that eventually manifested in to deep questions about the legitimacy of science as an objective pursuit. What I mean by this is, a lot of art was starting to come in to the picture. The idea that faith was part of science became absolutely clear at that time.

    I enjoyed one of the first posts in this thread, that went something like:

    If an atom is both a wave and a particle, that which one is it really? and if it is neither, that what is it? "[If something cannot be easily explained we do not understand it.]" - Eistein

    To me, the existence of something that acts like an atom is absolutely provable, however the question remains, Do they exist?

    I am saying, "bombs that split that atom" did one of two things, either it split the atom or it did something else, It looks very much like an atom splitting. But since we do not actually see the atom, it may not exist. Of course the energy released is evidence that the atomic model works well in describing the phenomena, it may not be the whole picture. This distinction may not be important to some, I find it is a very important question.

    So moving on, I stepped in to the quantum world. With 12 fermions combining to form neutrons, protons, and electrons as well as a few others; and 4 bosons, which occur only as mediators to force. And of course the mysterious higgs boson which hasn't been measured.

    Now we have all these labels, we can place on a volume and call them that thing. But all these tools allow us to do is say, there is this amount of energy in this space, which corresponds to this particle. But really we cant even say that, we can say, "In this volume there is such and such a probability of observing this amount of energy." We still cannot see a particle. We see a volume of space that exhibits an energy probability cloud.

    Do atoms really exist?

    It is not an easy question to answer, and it is even harder to remain objective in a social world.

    The phenomena we observe and call atoms could operate in a fundamentally different way than we have worked for centuries to develop. The things we see as the material of atoms or even the material of fermions could be holographic projections from a higher dimension with laws that govern their actions completely consistent with what we observe. Everything we think we know about atoms and subatomic particles should be looked at from the beginning by anyone with the ability to have an interest in it.

    Certainty, this string of words should make you think about things on this page with a more open mind. My personal opinion is that particles do not exist at all, and sadly I have no firm proof for this gut feeling but will continue to research. My vision is something more like de broglie-bohm theory. Particles are a convenient way to understand entities at a scale but do not in reality have a firm existence. You can keep zooming in and will never find a particle, just finer details in the wave form that is the fabric of the universe.

    If you have read this far send me an email, I hope that I can be moved in some direction.
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  3. #2 ReMakeIt - Do Atoms Exist? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by ReMakeIt View Post
    To me, the existence of something that acts like an atom is absolutely provable, however the question remains, Do they exist?
    Their existence is absolutely provable but you ask if they exist? That seems odd.

    We can image them, which makes their non-existence somewhat implausible: STM Image Gallery - Atomilism

    I kind of agree that we can never really know what particles really are; I'm not even sure that it makes any sense to ask. All we can do is discover more about how they behave.

    If you want to think of them as "holographic projections from a higher dimension" that is fine as long as, as you say, your model is completely consistent with what we observe. I prefer to think of them as the excreta of invisible pink flying unicorns . Are either of these models testable? No (therefore they are not science). Are either of them useful? Probably not. The only thing that is useful is the scientific theory.


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    You have completely missed what I am saying, sir.

    I did not say their existence is provable and that is a misquotation.

    We cannot image them, you are looking at something that is generated based on data not an image.

    And that is just like a dr to treat the patient based on symptoms but not discover the meaning of them. Of course it makes sense to ask, I ask because I can ask.

    I am saying I prefer to think about what they are rather than jump to a conclusion about what they are simply because it was the best rhetoric of our forefathers. And how dare you suggest that something is untestable without giving it any scrap of rigor.
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  5. #4  
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    Quote Originally Posted by ReMakeIt View Post
    You have completely missed what I am saying, sir.

    I did not say their existence is provable and that is a misquotation.
    I see I oversimplified what you said: you are distinguishing what we observe to be there from what is really there. Is that right?

    Is that any different from any other observation we make? Even things we see directly with our eyes, we only see an image generated by our eyes and interpreted by our brain. We don't know that what we see is what is "really" out there.

    We cannot image them, you are looking at something that is generated based on data not an image.
    I'm not sure that is very different from any other form of imaging.

    And how dare you suggest that something is untestable without giving it any scrap of rigor.
    But if your mental model of "holographic projections from a higher dimension" is indistinguishable from any other model because it is "completely consistent with what we observe" then how do you test it? If your model predicts a difference from the current model, then we can test it.
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    We observe volumes of energy, we do not observe particles. Particles are a convenient way of wrapping the mind around what sort of energy in in a volume.

    The limits of our observational power do not allow us to identify a particle at this time. The images you shared are based on fields and not on particles they do not demonstrate a particle in any sense, philosophical or scientific. You hold up an electron shell and call it a particle, how can I even converse with that? Next, you will be telling me a billiard ball is a particle.

    And your last line is invalid. Just because a test has yet to be formulated does not throw the idea out. If it did where would we be...
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    Quote Originally Posted by ReMakeIt View Post
    You hold up an electron shell and call it a particle, how can I even converse with that?
    I agree with you that "particle" is a totally inadequate term. I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "exist" but I agree that we only know about these "things" (whatever they are) by their effects.

    And your last line is invalid. Just because a test has yet to be formulated does not throw the idea out. If it did where would we be...
    But, until there is a test then there is no way of choosing one idea over another. It doesn't mean it needs to be thrown out, but it provides no reason to accept it either. Do you have any ideas how you idea could be test, in principle?
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    I agree with everything you just said and think you understand the meat of what I am serving. I was just pointed in this direction: Heim theory - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and will look for ideas in that direction, my reading has already taken me here: PhysForum Science, Physics and Technology Discussion Forums -> Burkhard Heim's Particle Structure Theory which is way more complete.

    I am not likely to settle on a model for what the tensor field that holds all dimension represents until I have thought this out completely and that precluded any venturing on what sorts of test would be needed.

    But in the spirit of trying
    A test that proved that our R4 world is a holographic manifestation of R(n+4), we would have to track higher dimensional variables and look for correlations. Also, we could look for patterns in R4 an try to introduce an R5 modulus which made R4 linear. Of course the beast would be something like, pulling energy out of higher dimensions or grabbing hold of them and moving them. All very abstract at the moment, with apologies.
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    I am not likely to settle on a model for what the tensor field that holds all dimension represents
    You see, this is the central problem with Heim Theory, and the main reason why it was never really pursued - Heim had no explanation as to why these dimensions aren't observable, even though they are meant to be macroscopic in size. The other big problem is that his theory could not explain particle interactions as opposed to isolated particles. Furthermore he decided not to use standard maths notation, which probably wasn't a smart move either.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ReMakeIt View Post
    Hello, I find the discussion on this page very interesting. It coincides with some of the research I have been doing lately. I am a chemist from the University of Washington '05. In addition I have spent a great deal of time studying math.

    Do atoms exist? What does that question mean?



    .........




    Certainty, this string of words should make you think about things on this page with a more open mind. My personal opinion is that particles do not exist at all, and sadly I have no firm proof for this gut feeling but will continue to research. My vision is something more like de broglie-bohm theory. Particles are a convenient way to understand entities at a scale but do not in reality have a firm existence. You can keep zooming in and will never find a particle, just finer details in the wave form that is the fabric of the universe.

    If you have read this far send me an email, I hope that I can be moved in some direction.

    So, what does exist to make the world what it is? At what level do you think existence comes into play?
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by ReMakeIt View Post

    Do atoms exist? What does that question mean?

    To really have a discussion like this we need to define atom first.

    The Greeks used the word atom since it meant indivisible. As time progressed, it adapted to mean, 'a fundamental, indivisible building block of nature.' And the modern meaning is, formally,

    The atom is a basic unit of matter that consists of a dense central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons. (1)

    If this definition agrees with you, please read on.
    I have to quibble with your definition. The electrons really don't matter. The nucleus is the atom, plain and simple, and it's really hard to successfully break up a nucleus for most elements.

    Also each atom doesn't exactly have its own cloud of them. Electrons are just constantly getting swapped between them with the predicted number being the average number that are expected to be there at any given time. It's sort of like how a store might predict it will get a certain number of customers on average in the store, but that doesn't mean that exact number are there all the time.

    In my third year of study at the university, I was studying the physical chemistry which introduced me to the concepts of quantum mechanics. I have done calculations of waveforms by hand without a calculator and it really took a lot of the beauty and magic of science away. Probability clouds and wave particle duality were seeds that eventually manifested in to deep questions about the legitimacy of science as an objective pursuit. What I mean by this is, a lot of art was starting to come in to the picture. The idea that faith was part of science became absolutely clear at that time.
    It means our current definition of the atom is not guaranteed accurate. However, nuclear physics makes some very sound predictions that would be incredibly hard to arrive at for reasons other than the ones they give us.

    The fact of all atomic masses being quantities that evenly divide by the weights of a neutron or a proton is a starting point. One can observe the weight of a nucleus by placing it in a magnetic field and seeing how far it gets flung.
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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  12. #11  
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    For the purposes of this discussion, a firm definition of atom is needed. I used one from wiki. However, even looking at the nucleus as the particle you can clearly see that within the current framework, the nucleus is not a particle.

    It is a grouping of fermions and fermions are not particles.

    A quantum particle is defined by its wave-function. In addition, you can assign composite wave-functions to multiple particles. These composite wave-functions obey a certain symmetrization requirement depending on whether the particles are bosons or fermions. Each particle also carries a certain amount of spin, which is also quantized. (RedHotChess.com : Science : The Universe as a Hologram)

    "... Schrödinger's equation exactly characterizes the momentum spectrum that the slit screen exchanges with incident particles. This situation suggests we should re-examine conventional interpretations as to what the mathematical objects (in particular the wave function, Psi) within standard quantum theory represent. Because it is conventionally assumed that a particle propagates as a wave, Psi is normally taken to be a mathematical representation of the simultaneous superposition of states available to the particle. While this may seem reasonable if the particle is taken to be wave-like and non local, such an interpretation does not work in a context where a particle does not propagate in space as a wave." Quantum Theory and Wave/Particle Duality

    They exhibit the behavior of waves.


    It means our current definition of the atom is not guaranteed accurate. However, nuclear physics makes some very sound predictions that would be incredibly hard to arrive at for reasons other than the ones they give us.
    Numerous other ways to arrive at the same numbers.


    And of course in looped definition is is easy to find that, since m = E/c^2 than also the sum of contributions to the total energy divided by the speed of light squared will result in a sum of masses that conveniently add up to the total mass.

    Your argument gives no proof for the existence of atoms nor quantum particles.
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  13. #12  
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    awaiting research...
    Last edited by MeteorWayne; January 26th, 2012 at 08:49 PM.
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    Are you looking for proof? I'm not sure about your pitch here.
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    So, what does exist to make the world what it is? At what level do you think existence comes into play?
    I'd really like to answer that question, however it goes beyond the scope of the question I have asked.

    What I am trying to get it as iron hard proof that I should invest the time in studying particles.

    I find things like renormalization and wave forms to be, while mathematically accurate, gimmicks, which sweep the true nature of the universal fabric under the rug.

    The dynamic nature of the energy exchange process reminds me of when I was studying water. At first they say, it is H2O, than they say well it really isn't H2O it is a combination of H2O, H3O+ and OH-.

    Likewise, the particles arent really particles, they describe a state in the dynamic but are not real.
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    I'm hearing you.

    I think though it is a good thing that particle physics is the mythical unicorn of iron hard proof; it keeps new ideas running into play to get close to the ultimate. Maybe that's the way it is meant to be?
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    Quote Originally Posted by ReMakeIt View Post
    You have completely missed what I am saying, sir.

    I did not say their existence is provable and that is a misquotation.

    We cannot image them, you are looking at something that is generated based on data not an image.

    And that is just like a dr to treat the patient based on symptoms but not discover the meaning of them. Of course it makes sense to ask, I ask because I can ask.

    I am saying I prefer to think about what they are rather than jump to a conclusion about what they are simply because it was the best rhetoric of our forefathers. And how dare you suggest that something is untestable without giving it any scrap of rigor.
    So if you could SEE an atom, this would be sufficient proof of existence?

    Weird, considering we often see things that aren't there and are utterly sure of the existence of other things invisible, like the square root of negative one. I "see" you trust your senses perhaps a bit too much.
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    Interestingly, the big bang is just as mythical as the atom, for proof of either as an iron-clad rod of determination is lacking in all currently held contemporary theories of science, yet........yet beside the fact they cannot be directly demonstrated other than via indirect submission of deduction, they inspire us to learn more about the possible nature of reality. How can that be bad?
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    So if you could SEE an atom, this would be sufficient proof of existence?

    Weird, considering we often see things that aren't there and are utterly sure of the existence of other things invisible, like the square root of negative one. I "see" you trust your senses perhaps a bit too much.
    Way to stuff words in my mouth... that is all i have to say about that
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    Quote Originally Posted by ReMakeIt View Post
    So if you could SEE an atom, this would be sufficient proof of existence?

    Weird, considering we often see things that aren't there and are utterly sure of the existence of other things invisible, like the square root of negative one. I "see" you trust your senses perhaps a bit too much.
    Way to stuff words in my mouth... that is all i have to say about that
    Petty, because it's a pretty valid point that Arthur is making here...
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    Clearly, things that behave exactly like atoms and subatomic particles exist. Whether those things are really particles, bundles of energy with particular characteristics, holographic projections, or little clockwork unicorns is philosophy rather than science. (Until some evidence comes along to make our current theories invalid.)
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    What I am trying to get it as iron hard proof that I should invest the time in studying particles.
    Well, until you have studied it and understand every little detail of how this world of particles work, you aren't in a position to make a judgement as to their being real or not, or as to how well our QM formalism works. It would be rather like a plumber trying to make a judgement about a neurosurgeons latest surgery.
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    I certainly am in a position to judge a road before I decide to walk down it. However, I am familiar with QM formailism but am 7 years out of practice. And even a plumber can tell when a neurosurgeons has fucked up.
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  24. #23  
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    Quote Originally Posted by ReMakeIt View Post
    I certainly am in a position to judge a road before I decide to walk down it. However, I am familiar with QM formailism but am 7 years out of practice.
    That's fine, it didn't say that you weren't, nor was it meant to be some sort of attack (sorry if you perceived it that way)...it was merely a general statement in response to the quoted line.
    Btw, on a purely philosophical note I would disagree with you - you will never really know what a road is like until after you have walked it. What would life be about otherwise ??

    And even a plumber can tell when a neurosurgeons has fucked up.
    True of course, but what the plumber cannot judge is the effort, skill and knowledge that went into a successful surgery. Same with quantum mechanics - one needs to know the intricacies, maths and all, to see exactly the beauty and predictive power of the model, and therefore also its limitations. That's all I'm trying to say.
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  25. #24  
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    Quote Originally Posted by ReMakeIt View Post
    I certainly am in a position to judge a road before I decide to walk down it. However, I am familiar with QM formailism but am 7 years out of practice. And even a plumber can tell when a neurosurgeons has fucked up.
    How far are you into chemistry so far? I must admit I had a hard time with it until a teacher actually explained why the electron shells formed the way they did in terms that I could understand (using physics, in particular describing the need for electrons to balance attraction vs. repulsion). From that moment on, chemistry has become interesting to me.

    I suspect that there will be a moment like that for you if you keep going.
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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    Indeed, that is the moment for me as well. The concept of shells unfilled allowing different molecules to share electrons and bond..."Wow, this is cool!"
    Last edited by MeteorWayne; January 28th, 2012 at 04:24 AM.
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    I graduated 8 years ago and have worked in chemistry since. I think what you are talking about is orbitals of valence electrons, I am exploring something else, though related.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ReMakeIt View Post
    So if you could SEE an atom, this would be sufficient proof of existence?

    Weird, considering we often see things that aren't there and are utterly sure of the existence of other things invisible, like the square root of negative one. I "see" you trust your senses perhaps a bit too much.
    Way to stuff words in my mouth... that is all i have to say about that
    So if that was not what you meant when you said "observe", please correct me.
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    Thought this might be an appropriate pace for this: Glass Structure, Atom by Atom. In the Pipeline:
    ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat
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