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Thread: is the universe like an atom

  1. #1 is the universe like an atom 
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    This is an abstract idea my buddy presented to me. We are not physicists obviously. If an atom consists of protons and neutrons orbited by electrons the center of the universe could be veiwed as the nucleus and the galexies as electrons. Is this possible. If so, what would an atom the size of our universe be a part of? I know this is a radical idea and I expect negative feedback but keep in mind that it is intended to prevoke thaught and not criticism. Any input would be a treat thanks.


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  3. #2 Re: is the universe like an atom 
    . DrRocket's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by weslex
    This is an abstract idea my buddy presented to me. We are not physicists obviously. If an atom consists of protons and neutrons orbited by electrons the center of the universe could be veiwed as the nucleus and the galexies as electrons. Is this possible. If so, what would an atom the size of our universe be a part of? I know this is a radical idea and I expect negative feedback but keep in mind that it is intended to prevoke thaught and not criticism. Any input would be a treat thanks.
    Atoms are not really like little solar systems. That was a very early model that works pretty well for the hydrogen atom and not for much else. It has been perpetuated by too much Disney.

    Real atoms are described by quantum mechanics and are more like fuzzy little clouds in which position and speed of the particles represented by those clouds are not well defined. The clouds are themselves of somewhat strange geometry and are not just circles and ellipses.


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  4. #3  
    Forum Professor Wild Cobra's Avatar
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    A couple links:

    Why Can't We Admit That We Don't Have a Clue?; Electron Cloud Theory:



    Cloud Watchers; conceptual model:

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  5. #4  
    Forum Ph.D. Heinsbergrelatz's Avatar
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    well until you go up A-level physics (my curriculum, maybe different to yours), the atomic structure of an atom is based on electrons orbiting the central nucleus (sun), so it may look like the solar system somehow..

    but if you go up later on, as mentioned by Dr.Rocket and Wild Cobra, electrons do not always stay in fixed orbitals like the orbitals they tell you in high school chem books.
    according to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, you can never definitely pin point pairs of physical properties, like position and momentum, with precise precision.

    we can only say 95% of the time (or any other percentage you choose), the electron will be found within a fairly easily defined region of space quite close to the nucleus. Such a region of space is called an orbital. You can think of an orbital as being the region of space in which the electron lies.

    so you can conclude, our solar system is not like an electron orbiting around the nucleus exactly, it would rather be like an endless amount of possible electron arbitrary positions orbiting around the nucleus. So visualize this in our solar systemic way.
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  6. #5 Re: is the universe like an atom 
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrRocket
    Atoms are not really like little solar systems.
    On the other hand, to the best of our knowledge they're less like anything else.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  7. #6  
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    Well this is all very interesting to me. While I dont know a lot about physics I am withit enough to grasp the general ideas with a few pictures. Thanks for the info guys and keep em coming.
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  8. #7 Re: is the universe like an atom 
    Forum Senior Booms's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by weslex
    This is an abstract idea my buddy presented to me. We are not physicists obviously. If an atom consists of protons and neutrons orbited by electrons the center of the universe could be veiwed as the nucleus and the galexies as electrons. Is this possible. If so, what would an atom the size of our universe be a part of? I know this is a radical idea and I expect negative feedback but keep in mind that it is intended to prevoke thaught and not criticism. Any input would be a treat thanks.
    (weird how people keep mentioning solar systems and not the universe like you asked huh?)
    frankly, in reference to the above posts, what, how, where and why the bits of an atom fit together I think is largely irrelevant. regardless of an atoms structure, quantum or otherwise, it's never going to be similar to the universe's structure




    Atoms can in fact be likened to a solar system, the nucleus at the heart (the sun) with electrons (planets) orbiting around it, held in orbit by gravity or other such electromagnetic forces. whether they are similar in shape or structure is neither here nor there.

    The Universe however is like an explosion, Imagine setting off a grenade inside a wooden crate, when it explodes, splinters and lumps of wood fly off every which way in a (rough) circle. Replace the grenade with the centre of the universe, and the lumps of wood with galaxies and you have the rough layout of the universe.

    Atom's are (essentially) balls of energy, held in shape by forces.
    The Universe is the result of a colossal explosion, forced apart and potentially accellerated by Dark Matter



    of course most bodies in the cosmos operate on a principle similar to the atom, solar systems orbit Black holes making galaxies, planets orbit stars, moons orbit planets (aliens orbit moons....)



    Quote Originally Posted by weslex
    what would an atom the size of our universe be a part of?
    I rather like the endings of both Men In Black Films, either our universe is in the locker of a school in an even bigger universe, or our universe is simply the marble of a child in a massive universe
    It's not how many questions you ask, but the answers you get - Booms

    This is the Acadamy of Science! we don't need to 'prove' anything!
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