Atoms?

Discussion in 'Physics' started by ross, Apr 14, 2012.

  1. ross

    Thread Starter Member

    Jul 30, 2010
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    I was looking at some photos of different types of atoms,some were pointy others were round,oblong,ect... So what am I really looking at here? is it the collapsed wave functions of all the electrons probability tracks around the nucleus? Or is it just a few electrons orbiting very fast in a magnetic field to create the fuzzy illusion of an atom? Or something else?
     
  2. Kermit2

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 5, 2010
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    The electron microscope uses electrons. Of course, hence the name.

    What you see would be the negative charge boundary around the atom rather than the actual atom itself. To an electron, the electron shell about other atoms is impenetrable. The electron could join another atoms electron shell or if energetic enough dislodge one and create an atom with an electric charge(an ion), but could not return true information about the visible arrangement of subatomic particles inside the atomic nucleus. A 'picture' of such things is just not possible. Like trying to see whats inside a bowling ball by bombarding it with golf balls. Futile by definition.
     
  3. amilton542

    Active Member

    Nov 13, 2010
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    It sounds like you're referring to atomic orbits:

    http://winter.group.shef.ac.uk/orbitron/
     
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  4. Kermit2

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 5, 2010
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    Those are mathematical constructs used to help the mind 'picture' the complexities of the electron 'shells', the energy levels of those shells, and also can help explain the various ways in which atoms combine into compounds and why one compound might be a more likely result than another, when both seem equally likely to be formed in a reaction
     
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  5. ross

    Thread Starter Member

    Jul 30, 2010
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  6. ross

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    Jul 30, 2010
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    I understand what your talking about here but what I was seeing was actual photos of atoms. I cant remember with what apparatus the photos were taken with but it was clearly actual images of atoms,the electron clouds were different shapes for different compounds and elements and I'm just curious as to why they are like that?
     
  7. russ_hensel

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 11, 2009
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    Think hard about "actual photo" You mean a quick snap with an iPhone or what?
     
  8. davebee

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    Oct 22, 2008
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    There may be several answers to this.

    One answer is that when physicists look for what kind of math agrees with how atoms seem to behave, that math predicts the electron orbital shapes that are usually shown in physics textbooks, with spheres, lumps, doughnuts, pointy shapes, etc.

    Another answer is that it seems that some physicists are actually getting photos of atoms, and the photos agree with the shapes the math predicts.

    http://physicsbuzz.physicscentral.com/2009/09/first-detailed-photos-of-atoms.html

    Currently, they use a field-emission electron microscope for this, but I'm sure an iphone app is under development and will be available real soon.
     
  9. mahnoorbloch

    New Member

    Apr 22, 2012
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  10. ross

    Thread Starter Member

    Jul 30, 2010
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    Google image, (actual photos of atoms) and you will see what I mean.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2012
  11. ross

    Thread Starter Member

    Jul 30, 2010
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