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Thread: Questions about Atoms

  1. #1 Questions about Atoms 
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    Ok, so everyone knows how the atom consists of neutrons, protons, and electrons. My question is, if neutrons have no charge, and electrons r negatively charged, what will happen if a neutron and electron collide?

    Also, atoms are named the smallest unit of matter. My other question is, if its possible to split atoms, why are atoms themselves named the smallest units of matter? Can't the parts that have been split be grouped together to create an even smaller unit?


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  3. #2 Re: Questions about Atoms 
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    Quote Originally Posted by tritai
    Ok, so everyone knows how the atom consists of neutrons, protons, and electrons. My question is, if neutrons have no charge, and electrons r negatively charged, what will happen if a neutron and electron collide?

    Also, atoms are named the smallest unit of matter. My other question is, if its possible to split atoms, why are atoms themselves named the smallest units of matter? Can't the parts that have been split be grouped together to create an even smaller unit?
    Electron-neutron interaction: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/pic...2&blobtype=pdf

    Atoms were named long before the physical theory of the atom was on solid ground -- by the early Greeks. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democritus

    The modern theory of the atom is relatively recent. In fact one of the strongest pieces of evidence for the existence of atoms and molecules was the work of Einstein on Brownian motion in the early twentieth century.

    At the time that the atomic theory was developed, the fact that it was in fact composed of smaller particles was not known, although the theory progressed rapidly and the neucleus was discovered shortly afterward and Rutheford put forth the more or less modern model of the atom and nucleus. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rutherford_model

    The atom is composed of other particles, but the smallest entity that embodies the basic characteristics of a given material is the atom, and in that sense when you subdivide it you loose quite a lot.

    There is some history involved in the naming conventions and you have to take that into account.


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  4. #3  
    Forum Sophomore oceanwave's Avatar
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    neutrons themselves are made from smaller sub atomic particles (if im not wrong) of 3 quarks. what it may change into depends on the decay it undergoes. not sure about this but electron neutron collisions would probably cause the neutron to 'split' or decay as per the experiments being done in the hadron colliders today...but i could be wrong here...
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  5. #4  
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    This is OT, but how do you accelerate neutron in the collider if it is chargeless?
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  6. #5  
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    neutrons themselves are made from smaller sub atomic particles (if im not wrong) of 3 quarks. what it may change into depends on the decay it undergoes. not sure about this but electron neutron collisions would probably cause the neutron to 'split' or decay as per the experiments being done in the hadron colliders today...but i could be wrong here...
    oceanwave really helped along with DrRocket



    And thank u KALSTER for your help on OP
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  7. #6  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope MagiMaster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tritai
    I just hope the OP was happy with his answer before you came along.

    Terribly sorry, but whats an OP?

    You can waste real scientists time, by adding silly comments, and showing off your lack of mastery of the English language.
    Yes, please explain this "real scientist" shenanigan going on. Also, what does mastery of the english language have to do with anything? You're just completely deviating off the original question that was posted about ATOMS.

    Another question: So in a solid, when all the atoms are tightly packed together, what keeps the atoms in line? Why don't the atoms collide with each other once in a while maybe due to an irregular vibration going on?

    Also, when scientists experimented with a very thin sheet of gold to show how particles can easily pass through, it proved that most of the sheet was empty matter. Does that mean that if the sheet was looked at from under a pwerful enough microscope, you'd actually see infinitesimal holes in the sheet?
    In a solid, the atoms aren't moving that much. They all fall into place and more or less stay put, kept apart by the negative charge of the electrons.

    Looking at a thin sheet of gold, you would only be able to see through if the wavelength of the light was less than the spacing between the gold atoms, more or less. The fact that not all of this light makes it through means that it's hitting something. Of course, this is only a simplistic description of things, and I'll leave further details up to people who know a little more about this than I do.
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    Forum Sophomore oceanwave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CoolEJ
    This is OT, but how do you accelerate neutron in the collider if it is chargeless?
    hmm, my understanding is that the neutron isnt the one moving. rather, the electron is the one being pushed around to gain speed required. of course it isnt as good as 2 electrons colliding in opposite directions (hence 2wice the impact) but back then, i think it was just to understand more about the neutron.

    about the gold sheet, i would expect yes, there are gaps in between. similar to what would happen if we take 5 spheres and packed them together. but the reason for the electrons passing through is not because of these 'gaps' between the atoms but attributed to the emptiness surrounding the nucleus of the atom. what keeps the metal sheet's atoms in a straight line (though i think that 'a straight line' is not an accurate description) is probably metallic bonding in metals.

    on a side note, i believe that there exists a microscope (electron microscope) which allows one to 'see' atoms. but the picture isnt very clear and what u see are just bumps (and i also doubt the actual shape/size) of the atoms.
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by oceanwave
    Quote Originally Posted by CoolEJ
    This is OT, but how do you accelerate neutron in the collider if it is chargeless?
    hmm, my understanding is that the neutron isnt the one moving.
    I found an interesting link on that: http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasc...0/phy00734.htm

    Quote Originally Posted by oceanwave
    about the gold sheet, i would expect yes, there are gaps in between. similar to what would happen if we take 5 spheres and packed them together. but the reason for the electrons passing through is not because of these 'gaps' between the atoms but attributed to the emptiness surrounding the nucleus of the atom.
    This is the result of Rutherford's experiment.

    Quote Originally Posted by oceanwave
    on a side note, i believe that there exists a microscope (electron microscope) which allows one to 'see' atoms. but the picture isnt very clear and what u see are just bumps (and i also doubt the actual shape/size) of the atoms.
    What you actually "see" is the electric field produced by the electrons surrounding the nuclei of the atoms.
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  10. #9  
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    Thank you very much, DrRocket, oceanwave, Dishmaster, and MagiMaster. I hope my questions are not insults to your intelligence....i have a tendency to ask many trivial questions when I'm curious.
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  11. #10  
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    No problem. Asking questions is always a good thing.
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  12. #11  
    Forum Sophomore oceanwave's Avatar
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    to dish: icic...yea, i was referring to his experiment. hmm...is the electric field affected by the different orbitals? also, would a gold atom really look bigger than a sulphur atom (relative size).?
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  13. #12  
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    More questions!!! You're going to begin to hate me for these, just so you know. :?

    Anyway, -ahem, ahem-

    Is it possible to dissect a quark? I mean, scientists have found quarks inside of the protons and neutrons, right? So is it possible to look inside a QUARK? Can microscopes and the other scientific machinery even GO to that level?

    Stupider Q:

    Can you take say, protons from ONE atom, neutrons from another, and electrons, and CREATE a totally new atom? Is it possible to do subatomic transplants? (is that the right terminology?) Would you even be able to grab hold of one of the electrons?
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  14. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by tritai
    More questions!!! You're going to begin to hate me for these, just so you know. :?

    Anyway, -ahem, ahem-

    Is it possible to dissect a quark? I mean, scientists have found quarks inside of the protons and neutrons, right? So is it possible to look inside a QUARK? Can microscopes and the other scientific machinery even GO to that level?

    Stupider Q:

    Can you take say, protons from ONE atom, neutrons from another, and electrons, and CREATE a totally new atom? Is it possible to do subatomic transplants? (is that the right terminology?) Would you even be able to grab hold of one of the electrons?
    The current best understanding of particle physics says that, no, quarks are fundamental units. Of course, there's always room for a better understanding later.

    And yes, if you mix and match particles, you still get an atom with all the familiar properties. Doing this purposefully, along with looking at quarks (which also has the problem that quarks never exist independently, outside of very extreme conditions) is beyond current technology.
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  15. #14  
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    Quote Originally Posted by tritai
    More questions!!! You're going to begin to hate me for these, just so you know. :?

    Anyway, -ahem, ahem-

    Is it possible to dissect a quark? I mean, scientists have found quarks inside of the protons and neutrons, right? So is it possible to look inside a QUARK? Can microscopes and the other scientific machinery even GO to that level?
    So far as is known quarks are fundmental, point particles. There does not seem to be a lower level. And scientists have not actually found quarks inside of protons and neutrons. I believe that there was some thought just a month or two ago that Fermilab had detected a free quark. If that is the case it will be the first time that a quark has been detected in isolation.

    Quarks are bound inside the nucleus by the strong force. The strong force actually increases with distance, up to a point, rather like stretching a rubber band. When there is enought energy to break that bond the energy goes into creating other quarks which bind with the original quark, which tends to make it difficult to isolate a single quark.

    Microscopes don't come close to being able to see sub-atomic particles, not even electron microscopes. So no one has actually SEEN such particles. The best that I have seen are images that more or less show the location of individual atoms in a crystal, but structure within the atoms. The particles are detected in particle accelerators and are identified by their behavior when struck with other particles. There are no "photographs" of the particles themselves -- which ought not be surprising since the word "particle" much be taken in the sense of quantum mechanics and they are NOT little marbles.

    Stupider Q:

    Can you take say, protons from ONE atom, neutrons from another, and electrons, and CREATE a totally new atom? Is it possible to do subatomic transplants? (is that the right terminology?) Would you even be able to grab hold of one of the electrons?
    All subatomic particles of a given type (protons, neutrons and electrons in particular) are identical. So in principle a protons from one atom, neutrons from another and electrons from a third could combine to form a new atom. That is in part what goes in a nuclear explosion, where lots of particles are liberated and recombine. However, there is no technology available to permit subatomic transplants as a normal laboratory operation in the manner that you suggest. However, there are means to combine atoms to form new materials -- that is the subject of chemistry.
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  16. #15  
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    The Large Hadron Collider....built under genovia in hopes of creating Big bang situations....scientists, honestly, sooo empirical :wink:

    But if they were trying to recreate that exact moment, how could they POSSIBLY make a machine to withstand all that released energy???
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  17. #16  
    Administrator KALSTER's Avatar
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    The only energy involved would be that of the two colliding masses and their momentum, i.e. very very little in contrast to the big bang. :wink:
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

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    So the collision is just a tiny proportion of the original bang? - sigh- of course.
    do you think the government should wllingly fund these kinds of scientific machines? or do u think the money involved should go to a "greater" cause, like world hunger, natural disaster aides, etc?
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  19. #18  
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    Too many people seriously underestimate the value of basic research. Many, many of the technologies modern life depends upon came about as a result of research that seemed pointless at the time. This has happened too many times for it to be considered coincidence.
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  20. #19  
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    Quote Originally Posted by MagiMaster
    Too many people seriously underestimate the value of basic research. Many, many of the technologies modern life depends upon came about as a result of research that seemed pointless at the time. This has happened too many times for it to be considered coincidence.
    I agree. Applied scientific research cannot provide progress, because applications can only be developed for something and from something that is already known. Furthermore, applied research is seldom based on altruistic motivations to serve a greater good, but mostly to fill a greater purse.
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  21. #20  
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    Posts in this thread of a questionable nature and responding posts have been moved to:
    http://www.thescienceforum.com/Questions-about-Atoms-(pseudo)-15646t.php
    Other posts may have been edited to remove references to the moved posts.

    Any posts attempting to continue the discussions of the moved posts in this thread shall be deleted.
    Janus
    "Men are apt to mistake the strength of their feelings for the strength of their argument.
    The heated mind resents the chill touch & relentless scrutiny of logic"-W.E. Gladstone


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