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Question for Chemists/Physicists

Axonly
Posts: 1,802
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8/22/2016 6:56:19 AM
Posted: 3 months ago
Why do electron not simply clump into the nucleus of an atom? This has been bothering me for a while.
Meh!
Fkkize
Posts: 2,149
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8/22/2016 7:34:27 AM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/22/2016 6:56:19 AM, Axonly wrote:
Why do electron not simply clump into the nucleus of an atom? This has been bothering me for a while.

Didn't I answer that question a while ago?
: At 7/2/2016 3:05:07 PM, Rational_Thinker9119 wrote:
:
: space contradicts logic
keithprosser
Posts: 1,968
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8/22/2016 8:29:10 AM
Posted: 3 months ago
A little googling will reveal it's all to do with the rules of quantum mechanics and the Heisenberg unvertainly principle. Which doesn't explain why the world is quantum mechanical or why the Heisenberg uncertainty principle exists.

So you can only explain the physics of the non-collapse of atoms in terms of unexplained physics. It is just a question of when you stop and are happy to accept something as 'brute fact'.

Perhaps the reason atoms don't collapse is the anthropic principle - if they did, we would be here to ask why.
MagicAintReal
Posts: 591
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8/22/2016 1:51:20 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/22/2016 6:56:19 AM, Axonly wrote:
Why do electron not simply clump into the nucleus of an atom? This has been bothering me for a while.

Electrons are about 1/1836 the mass of a proton, and thanks to the strong force holding the nucleus of protons and neutrons together, this proportion disallows a "clumping" of electrons in the nucleus, kind of like how the proportion of mass between the earth and the sun isn't just sucking the earth into the sun.

Just remember how much less massive an electron is than a proton, and it really shouldn't bother you so much.
Fkkize
Posts: 2,149
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8/22/2016 9:42:39 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/22/2016 1:51:20 PM, MagicAintReal wrote:
At 8/22/2016 6:56:19 AM, Axonly wrote:
Why do electron not simply clump into the nucleus of an atom? This has been bothering me for a while.

Electrons are about 1/1836 the mass of a proton, and thanks to the strong force holding the nucleus of protons and neutrons together,
Even the electron in the ground state of a hydrogen atom is too distant by four magnitudes for the strong force to have any observable effect.

this proportion disallows a "clumping" of electrons in the nucleus,
I am not sure how this follows.

kind of like how the proportion of mass between the earth and the sun isn't just sucking the earth into the sun.

Just remember how much less massive an electron is than a proton, and it really shouldn't bother you so much.

You are mixing up gravity and electromagnetism. Accelerating charges emit EM radiation, but accelerating masses don't emit "gravity radiation" (unless gravitational waves have something to with this, but then again the EM force is 40 magnitudes stronger than the force of gravity). So an electron cannot be on a stable orbit around a nucleus.
: At 7/2/2016 3:05:07 PM, Rational_Thinker9119 wrote:
:
: space contradicts logic
MagicAintReal
Posts: 591
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8/22/2016 11:34:28 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/22/2016 9:42:39 PM, Fkkize wrote:
At 8/22/2016 1:51:20 PM, MagicAintReal wrote:
At 8/22/2016 6:56:19 AM, Axonly wrote:
Why do electron not simply clump into the nucleus of an atom? This has been bothering me for a while.

Electrons are about 1/1836 the mass of a proton, and thanks to the strong force holding the nucleus of protons and neutrons together,
Even the electron in the ground state of a hydrogen atom is too distant by four magnitudes for the strong force to have any observable effect.

this proportion disallows a "clumping" of electrons in the nucleus,
I am not sure how this follows.

If the proportion of the mass of an electron to the mass of a proton were say the proportion of the mass of a neutron to the mass of a proton then it's possible for that strong force to have an effect on the electron as well, given it's "distance" from the nucleus.

kind of like how the proportion of mass between the earth and the sun isn't just sucking the earth into the sun.

You are mixing up gravity and electromagnetism.

No, I'm well aware of the difference between the two terms, and I said, "kind of like" I didn't say exactly like, and I stand by what I said, that if the mass of the earth were basically the same as the sun in the position it's in, then we might see a clumping of the earth and the sun...but yeah, it's not an exact analogy given the difference between gravity and the strong force or electromagnetism.

Accelerating charges emit EM radiation, but accelerating masses don't emit "gravity radiation" (unless gravitational waves have something to with this, but then again the EM force is 40 magnitudes stronger than the force of gravity). So an electron cannot be on a stable orbit around a nucleus.

I know that, I was trying to make a conceptual analogy for the OP, and it doesn't mean that one must conflate gravity and electromagnetism, rather that one understands proportions, which is the issue at hand here.
keithprosser
Posts: 1,968
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8/23/2016 7:48:41 AM
Posted: 3 months ago
Of course sometimes electrons do 'fall' into the nucleus, turning a proton into a neutron. It's called 'electron capture', an example being the radioactive decay of gallium-67 into zinc-67. It just doesn't happen much, due to quantum magic.

One way to think what prevents electrons falling into the nucleus is that to get closer to the nucleus where is could be 'grabbed' an electron would have to lose energy. Due to quantum effects electrons can't lose an arbitary about of energy (it has to lose at least a 'quantum'), so it can't rid itself of the energy it would need to shed to orbit nearer the nucleus so it continues to orbit at a fixed, safe distance.

That isn't quite true because electrons don't really orbit the nucleus like planets round the sun, but how much techical detail do you need?
Fkkize
Posts: 2,149
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8/23/2016 12:29:02 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/22/2016 11:34:28 PM, MagicAintReal wrote:
At 8/22/2016 9:42:39 PM, Fkkize wrote:
At 8/22/2016 1:51:20 PM, MagicAintReal wrote:
At 8/22/2016 6:56:19 AM, Axonly wrote:
Why do electron not simply clump into the nucleus of an atom? This has been bothering me for a while.

Electrons are about 1/1836 the mass of a proton, and thanks to the strong force holding the nucleus of protons and neutrons together,
Even the electron in the ground state of a hydrogen atom is too distant by four magnitudes for the strong force to have any observable effect.

this proportion disallows a "clumping" of electrons in the nucleus,
I am not sure how this follows.

If the proportion of the mass of an electron to the mass of a proton were say the proportion of the mass of a neutron to the mass of a proton then it's possible for that strong force to have an effect on the electron as well, given it's "distance" from the nucleus.
But the strong force does not deal with mass, it deals with color charge and electrons, being leptons, have no color.

kind of like how the proportion of mass between the earth and the sun isn't just sucking the earth into the sun.

You are mixing up gravity and electromagnetism.

No, I'm well aware of the difference between the two terms, and I said, "kind of like" I didn't say exactly like, and I stand by what I said, that if the mass of the earth were basically the same as the sun in the position it's in, then we might see a clumping of the earth and the sun...but yeah, it's not an exact analogy given the difference between gravity and the strong force or electromagnetism.

Accelerating charges emit EM radiation, but accelerating masses don't emit "gravity radiation" (unless gravitational waves have something to with this, but then again the EM force is 40 magnitudes stronger than the force of gravity). So an electron cannot be on a stable orbit around a nucleus.

I know that, I was trying to make a conceptual analogy for the OP, and it doesn't mean that one must conflate gravity and electromagnetism, rather that one understands proportions, which is the issue at hand here.

That's my point: there is no stable orbit for electrons AT ALL. No matter the distance, if it's electrically charged and accelerated, which all circular motion is, it is going to emit EM radiation, loosing energy.
: At 7/2/2016 3:05:07 PM, Rational_Thinker9119 wrote:
:
: space contradicts logic
Sidewalker
Posts: 3,713
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8/23/2016 4:31:43 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/22/2016 6:56:19 AM, Axonly wrote:
Why do electron not simply clump into the nucleus of an atom? This has been bothering me for a while.

There are a lot of answers here that are accurate as far as the mathematical formulas go, but they don't actually answer the "why" question because there isn't actually an electron orbiting the nucleus. That is a "picture" taken from Rutherford's model of the atom, and it was just a way of visualizing the data Rutherford was working with at the time, the data we are working with now has changed dramatically since then. It's only on that visual model, and then by applying classical physics to it, that a charged particle (electron) moving on a curved path (orbiting) should continuously emit electromagnetic radiation and consequently spiral down into the nucleus. But that is the logic of a visual model that is no longer an accurate representation of the data, and it is an application of the logic of a classical physics that doesn't apply to what we now know about the quantum world.

It's always important to remember that the model follows the data, it's the data we are interpreting, not the visual model, and the data we have to try to visualize is from quantum physics, which means it is quantized, which means there can be no continuous radiation of energy and no spiraling down into the nucleus, the very idea of an electron in the nucleus is meaningless.

The data we have to interpret involves elements that exhibit a discontinuous periodicity of properties, what we observe are discrete amounts of energy operating at discrete distances from the nucleus. If you try to use the Rutherford model to visualize the data, you get particles that move from place to place without traveling the distance in between, and particles don't do that, electrons aren't actually particles. If you apply classical physics to that model then the electromagnetic energy is represented by Maxwell"s continuous wave function, but what we observe is discontinuous, discrete energy levels, the data involves quantized energy that is not accurately represented by a wave function.

The mathematical formulas work, which is to say they accurately represent the data, and consequently, we need to find a visual model that is representative of the data, rather than try to fit the data to the old visual model. The best way to visualize the data that we actually have to interpret would be a model of shells of energy surrounding the nucleus at particular discrete distances, in this model electrons are not particles, they are probabilities of density peaks occurring within the energy field, and consequently, there is no reason to think that an "electron" will "clump into the nucleus", because the electron isn"t a "thing" that can be in any particular place.

As visual models go, this model isn't all that great either, but maybe it's just as close as we can get to a visual representation of the data we have to work with. It's not easy to visualize because everything we have ever visually experienced was a matter of classical physics in which things have definite positions and they move in a continuous manner, we only use the word visualize because there is something to "see", and we want to try to "see" it mentally. But the quantum world exhibits different behavior than anything we have ever seen, and when "things" are actually patterns of probability that exist in Hilbert Space, well, we can represent that with mathematical formulas that work, but we can't even imagine what it might actually look like, it certainly won't look like anything we have ever seen before.
"It is one of the commonest of mistakes to consider that the limit of our power of perception is also the limit of all there is to perceive." " C. W. Leadbeater
MagicAintReal
Posts: 591
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8/23/2016 9:39:33 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
If the proportion of the mass of an electron to the mass of a proton were say the proportion of the mass of a neutron to the mass of a proton then it's possible for that strong force to have an effect on the electron as well, given it's "distance" from the nucleus.
But the strong force does not deal with mass, it deals with color charge and electrons, being leptons, have no color.

Ah, but most of a proton's or a neutron's mass-energy comes from the strong force field energy, so, if an electron had that kind of proportional mass, then it would likely have that strong force field energy...just sayin.

I know that, I was trying to make a conceptual analogy for the OP, and it doesn't mean that one must conflate gravity and electromagnetism, rather that one understands proportions, which is the issue at hand here.

That's my point: there is no stable orbit for electrons AT ALL. No matter the distance, if it's electrically charged and accelerated, which all circular motion is, it is going to emit EM radiation, loosing energy.

I never said there was an orbit; I'm not implying that the Bohr's model is realistic...I was pointing out earth and sun because the earth is such a small fraction of the sun, much like an electron is such, based on mass, a small fraction of a proton, and lacking that mass-energy from the strong force, electrons don't collapse to the nucleus.
slo1
Posts: 4,330
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8/23/2016 11:51:35 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/23/2016 7:48:41 AM, keithprosser wrote:
Of course sometimes electrons do 'fall' into the nucleus, turning a proton into a neutron. It's called 'electron capture', an example being the radioactive decay of gallium-67 into zinc-67. It just doesn't happen much, due to quantum magic.

One way to think what prevents electrons falling into the nucleus is that to get closer to the nucleus where is could be 'grabbed' an electron would have to lose energy. Due to quantum effects electrons can't lose an arbitary about of energy (it has to lose at least a 'quantum'), so it can't rid itself of the energy it would need to shed to orbit nearer the nucleus so it continues to orbit at a fixed, safe distance.

That isn't quite true because electrons don't really orbit the nucleus like planets round the sun, but how much techical detail do you need?

This answer.