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Author Topic: What lies between a nucleus and its electrons?  (Read 1670 times)

Offline thedoc

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What lies between a nucleus and its electrons?
« on: 03/08/2013 12:30:03 »
Stephen Wells-Burr asked the Naked Scientists:
   
I understand that atoms are made up of a nucleus and electrons.  The electrons orbit the nucleus in cloud like shells.  The distance between the electrons and the nucleus is relatively very large.

My question is what fills the gap in between?

If this is nothing, then is this a vacuum?

Or could it be the mysterious dark matter everyone is looking for?
What do you think?
« Last Edit: 03/08/2013 12:30:03 by _system »


 

Offline Bill S

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Re: What lies between a nucleus and its electrons?
« Reply #1 on: 03/08/2013 19:37:52 »
This is strictly a non-scientistís view and may well be corrected by the experts.

My understanding is that as knowledge of the nature of atoms improved, the image of a nucleus with electrons orbiting like planets gave way to an image of shells.  This, I think, has moved towards the idea that the electrons could be found anywhere between the nucleus and infinity (if the Universe were infinite), but the overwhelming probability is that it will be found at a specific energy level, representing a particular distance from the nucleus. 

This would seem to suggest that if, for example, you consider a single hydrogen atom in space, what is between the nucleus and the electron is much the same as what is outside the electronís most likely position.

That should goad the scientists into providing a real answer.   :)

 

Offline Pmb

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Re: What lies between a nucleus and its electrons?
« Reply #2 on: 04/08/2013 01:56:57 »
Stephen Wells-Burr asked the Naked Scientists:
   
I understand that atoms are made up of a nucleus and electrons.  The electrons orbit the nucleus in cloud like shells.  The distance between the electrons and the nucleus is relatively very large.

My question is what fills the gap in between?

If this is nothing, then is this a vacuum?

Or could it be the mysterious dark matter everyone is looking for?
What do you think?
In quantum mechanics we treat the space between the nucleus and the surrounding electrons as if there's nothing between them.

Although this is a new area for me what I gather i that in quantum electrodynamics the vacuum behaves like a dielectric medium; it sprouts positro-electron pairs. This amounts to the electron having an effective charge that changes with distance. Griffiths text on particle physics explains this in section 2.3.
 

Offline lightarrow

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Re: What lies between a nucleus and its electrons?
« Reply #3 on: 04/08/2013 16:14:14 »
In quantum mechanics we treat the space between the nucleus and the surrounding electrons as if there's nothing between them.
So the electromagnetic field (if you want to see it as quantized according to QED or classical) is "nothing" for you? It has even (invariant) mass.
 

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Re: What lies between a nucleus and its electrons?
« Reply #3 on: 04/08/2013 16:14:14 »

 

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