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Thread: Electron cloud fields

  1. #1 Electron cloud fields 
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    I remember a while ago, they taught me (teachers, some websites) that the electrons surrounding the nucleus of an atom were all arranged in a random pattern that went in every which direction. That it is mainly a disorganized cloud that took no real shape or form. After many years, a physics teacher told me that the electrons do actually hold a few different shapes and that there is order. One shape that they showed me looked like dual halos on top of a small centered cloud in the middle around the nucleus. Another looked like "barbels" around the atom. Why do these shapes exist and why does it seem as if no one want the public to know about it? I mean, I do not think that it would cause religious people to go mad or something if they were to know about this, I don't see any comprehension requirement difference, it only causes you to ask more questions.....which is good!

    Is it some type of magnetic superimposition of the nucleus?


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    I think you are referring to the shape of the orbitals. This is not really the shape of the electron but is a boundary in which there is a high probability of finding the electron. There is no secret about it, just google electron orbital.


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    As far as I know, the shape changes with diatomic molecules and gets more and more complicated the bigger the molecule.
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    Yes, I meant the shape of the orbital, not the electron.

    Think about it; in quantum theory the electron moves to another shell when the atom is hit by a photon; but, if the shells are not concentrically expanding spheres, then how does it make it there, where exactly does it go? If the orbital is shaped like two halos, does the electron just move farther away? What about the paths of the electrons, do they just form a cloud, or do they follow very particular paths inside of the shape? Do the electrons ever travel to other electron clouds? Are they in any way teleporting there or traveling through different dimensions? Even if no one here knows the answer, It would be nice to have a debate over the possible answers.
    Of all the wonders in the universe, none is likely more fascinating and complicated than human nature.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    As far as I know, the shape changes with diatomic molecules and gets more and more complicated the bigger the molecule.
    Yeah, I won't try to talk about it myself, but if anyone wants to read more about that, check out "MO (molecular orbital) diagrams."
    "There is a kind of lazy pleasure in useless and out-of-the-way erudition." -Jorge Luis Borges
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cold Fusion
    Why do these shapes exist and why does it seem as if no one want the public to know about it? I mean, I do not think that it would cause religious people to go mad or something if they were to know about this, I don't see any comprehension requirement difference, it only causes you to ask more questions.....which is good!

    Is it some type of magnetic superimposition of the nucleus?
    The shapes are simply a way of describing the different solutions to the partial differential equation known as the wave equation in spherical coordinates.

    You have to understand that physics is all about understanding the world using mathematics, and so that is the proper language in which the contents of physics must be destribed. All this stuff made for popular consumption is just window dressing. There is no secret. There is only the hard work to learn the mathematics required to understand the real physics.


    Quote Originally Posted by Cold Fusion
    in quantum theory the electron moves to another shell when the atom is hit by a photon; but, if the shells are not concentrically expanding spheres, then how does it make it there, where exactly does it go? If the orbital is shaped like two halos, does the electron just move farther away? What about the paths of the electrons, do they just form a cloud, or do they follow very particular paths inside of the shape?
    Electrons are not billiard balls they do not have paths in the same way that billiard balls do. They are quantized waves and as such they are in many places at the same time. So for example, a single electron can be in two different and separated boxes at the same time. This is related to the phenomenon known as quantum tunneling.


    Quote Originally Posted by Cold Fusion
    Do the electrons ever travel to other electron clouds? Are they in any way teleporting there or traveling through different dimensions?
    An electron can go from one orbital to another by absorbing energy and angular momentum from an impact with a photon. The orbitals all have different energies and angular momentum values associated with them. It is not a matter of moving from one orbital to another for the orbital IS the electron and thus it is a matter of changing from one orbital to another - changing from one solution to the wave equation to a different solution to the wave equation to the different values for the energy and angurlar momentum represented by the new orbital.
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    I am BAD at math; most of what I know is conceptual logic based.

    So we haven't actually seen these orbitals? (electron tunneling microscope?) We only use math and assume that they exist based off of it?

    Do they know why quantum tunneling occurs? I watched a few shows on the science channel that pertained to something similar this....but they never explained exactly why these things happen.

    Why do they talk about electron shells as having a very particular number of electrons in them, like the first one having 2? It seems to chaotic for such specifics to exist.
    Of all the wonders in the universe, none is likely more fascinating and complicated than human nature.

    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe."

    "Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cold Fusion
    So we haven't actually seen these orbitals? (electron tunneling microscope?) We only use math and assume that they exist based off of it?
    It depends on what you mean by seeing. The human eye certainly has its limitations. But if you mean independent verification that these solutions correctly describe the state of the electrons in such orbitals, the answer is overwhelmingly so. This is one of the advantages of the hard sciences, because evidence of this sort, one way or the other, is not all that difficult to obtain.



    Quote Originally Posted by Cold Fusion
    Do they know why quantum tunneling occurs? I watched a few shows on the science channel that pertained to something similar this....but they never explained exactly why these things happen.
    Yes. In fact I just explained it in my previous post.



    Quote Originally Posted by Cold Fusion
    Why do they talk about electron shells as having a very particular number of electrons in them, like the first one having 2? It seems to chaotic for such specifics to exist.
    The Pauli Exclusion Principle is another peculitarity of quantum physics that says that two particles with half spins cannot have exactly the same state. But electrons can either be spin up or spin down and this is why every orbital described by a unique energy and angular momentum can be occupied by a maximum of two electrons, one spin up and one spin down.

    The reason why some energy levels have more than two electrons is because there are more possible angular momentum values. For example at the second energy level you can have an angular momentum of 0 or 1, but since angular momentum is a vector there are three different directions in which an angular momentum of 1 can be pointed. This gives you 2 electrons with angular momentum 0 and 6 electrons with angular momentum 1, for a total of 8 electrons in the second energy level. This explains why the periodic chart of the elements has only Hydrogen and Helium on the first line but Lithium, Beryllium, Boron, Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen, Florine and Neon on the second line.

    This Pauli Exclusion Principle in an important fact of physics that explains why matter occupies a volume of space and doesn't just collapse into a point.

    Integer spin particles like photons dont have this limitation and so they can be concentrated to an unlimited degree in the same place.
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    But how exactly does quantum tunneling occur? As in, the really fine details. I do not think any physicists know actually....

    This is all very interesting...How do you know all of this? College classes? Can't be logic alone...


    What exactly is spin? I know its described as angular momentum, but what does that mean? If you could see two particle hovering in the air, one with 1/2 spin, the other with a full spin, what would the differences be? Is spin only an abstract concept used to describe certain mathematical models?
    Of all the wonders in the universe, none is likely more fascinating and complicated than human nature.

    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe."

    "Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cold Fusion
    But how exactly does quantum tunneling occur? As in, the really fine details. I do not think any physicists know actually....
    Well it depends what you mean by these details. If you mean what I think you mean then if they really exist then the physicist do not know them, HOWEVER most physicist believe that they don't exist for in fact there were experiments proving that they did not exist. For reference look up Bell's inequality.


    Quote Originally Posted by Cold Fusion
    This is all very interesting...How do you know all of this? College classes? Can't be logic alone...
    I have a master's degree in physics from the University of Utah.


    Quote Originally Posted by Cold Fusion
    What exactly is spin? I know its described as angular momentum, but what does that mean? If you could see two particle hovering in the air, one with 1/2 spin, the other with a full spin, what would the differences be? Is spin only an abstract concept used to describe certain mathematical models?
    Well the angular momentum I was talking about is an orbital angular momentum similar to the angular momentum of the moon due to its orbit around the earth. Spin is a very different matter for unlike normal every day objects which can spin at any angular velocity the spin of particles is fixed by what kind of particle it is. These things really aren't like billiard balls at all. Frankly the spin of a particle is just another number that goes into the equations like mass and must be conserved in the interactions between particles in a manner similar to the conservation of angular momentum.

    All the particles that make up matter: electons, protons and neutrons are half spin particles or fermions. This half spin is a very strange thing in many ways in addition to the Pauli exclusion principle. To give you just a taste: a spin pointed in the +x direction can also be considered as pointing half in the +y direction and half in the -y direction, or as pointing half in the +z direction and half in the -z direction. This completely different for the normal kind of spins we are used to where a spin in the +x direction has a completely zero spin in +y, -y, +z and -z directions.

    But anyway using words to explain these is difficult, confusing and misleading. These half spin particles are probably better described as antisymmetric wavefunctions in which complex numbers involving the square root of negative one are used. A single realistic picture is either not possible or not known, instead several contradictory pictures must be used to understand these things - i.e. both as a particle and as a wave.
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    Impressive!

    Do you suggest going for a masters in physics? I am considering it actually, but am not sure yet.....because I am not good at calculus based math, but am VERY good at the math that I did in my physics classes. What are you doing with the degree if you don't mind me asking?


    So is spin really at all related to actual motion or direction in itself? Saying that it is pointing in different directions at the same time seems to be insinuating that the physicists definition of direction is different from the general publics (in relation to this).
    Of all the wonders in the universe, none is likely more fascinating and complicated than human nature.

    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe."

    "Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence"

    -Einstein

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cold Fusion
    Do you suggest going for a masters in physics? I am considering it actually, but am not sure yet.....because I am not good at calculus based math, but am VERY good at the math that I did in my physics classes.
    Not only could you. But it is quite possible that you could go on to get a PHD. There is certainly no way around the math. You have to learn it to do physics. But experimental physics is less math intensive and holds the greater promise for both getting a PHD and for a career. I was in theoretical physics and that is a whole different ballgame, and I cannot reccomend it.


    Quote Originally Posted by Cold Fusion
    What are you doing with the degree if you don't mind me asking?
    Teaching part time.


    Quote Originally Posted by Cold Fusion
    So is spin really at all related to actual motion or direction in itself?
    Well I think that part of the problem is that the distinction between motion and "being" blurs a bit in this. Just think about the fact motion is form of energy that can be converted into particles. Consider quantum tunneling, where it is not a matter of explaining how the electron moved from one box to the other (without traversing the intervening space), but how the electron is actually in both boxes at the same time to begin with.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cold Fusion
    Saying that it is pointing in different directions at the same time seems to be insinuating that the physicists definition of direction is different from the general publics (in relation to this).
    It not the definition of direction that is the problem. It is these particles which just keep defying our common ordinary understanding of things. Consider the following: "For example, rotating a spin-1/2 particle by 360 degrees does not bring it back to the same quantum state, but to the state with the opposite quantum phase; this is detectable, in principle, with interference experiments. To return the particle to its exact original state, one needs a 720 degree rotation." (from Wikipedia)

    I quote this last part not because I did not already know it, but because it is still so hard to wrap ones head around that I fear to say it wrong. That should tell you, and rightly so, that if you expect that a BS, MS or PHD in physics will make these confusions go away, you are wrong. What you will get, is the confidence that comes from using them over and over to predict things and thus to know that they are true in spite of the fact that you cannot really understand them. As Feynmann once said, ""If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don't understand quantum mechanics."

    There really is no obfustication going on here. If you like, you can think of it this way. Quantum mechanics and quantum field theory are powerful mathematical tools for predicting the results of experiments, but it is extremely difficult to get an intuitive grasp on what they mean in a realistic manner.
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    There really is no obfustication going on here. If you like, you can think of it this way. Quantum mechanics and quantum field theory are powerful mathematical tools for predicting the results of experiments, but it is extremely difficult to get an intuitive grasp on what they mean in a realistic manner.
    You know, this is interesting and is exactly how I think about it. But I can’t help thinking it might be possible to find a model that we can understand on an intuitive level, while still being able to make accurate predictions with the already developed maths. I have been trying to find such a model here, but am not sure if it could be dynamic enough to eventually incorporate everything. I mean, I am thinking that in finding a model for the goings on at the quantum level, we should then be able to extrapolate that model to explain things on a Relativity scale as well. That is, I am thinking that the path to a working GUT involves such an intuitive model. What do you think?
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    But I can’t help thinking it might be possible to find a model that we can understand on an intuitive level, while still being able to make accurate predictions with the already developed maths.
    Sure but not without some fundamental shift in the way we understand reality. Like disolving the distinction between motion and being which I suggested above. In any case the billiard ball picture of particles certainly doesn't work.


    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    I have been trying to find such a model here, but am not sure if it could be dynamic enough to eventually incorporate everything. I mean, I am thinking that in finding a model for the goings on at the quantum level, we should then be able to extrapolate that model to explain things on a Relativity scale as well. That is, I am thinking that the path to a working GUT involves such an intuitive model. What do you think?
    Yeah the basic idea of this is the ultimate reduction of physical law to the geometry of higher dimensional space-time which is certainly something that modern physics has been pointing to for sometime. But that is just avoids the issue of the quantum challenge because that is a perfectly classical view as epitomized by General relativity. It works well with things as wave-like in nature but fails miserable to explain this aspect of quantization, and has caused many phycists to suppose that the space-time continuum isn't really a continuum at all but somehow made of discrete pieces. It is almost enough to give credence of the idea that we are all just discrete data in a digital computer.

    The current form of string theory manages to embrace this idea of ultimate geometrization as an 11 dimensional supergravity while at the same time incorporating the reality of quantum physics, making this space-time behave as if populated by discrete particles, strings or membranes (depending how you look at it). but I think it can be said to be intuitive only in the broadest sense of the word.
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