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Are atoms empty space?

  1. Oct 11, 2015 #1

    Nav

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    If all fundamental particles are zero dimensional, are atoms empty space? And they are zero dimensional, does that mean that we don't exist?
     
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  3. Oct 11, 2015 #2

    phinds

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    Whoever told you that all fundamental particles are of zero dimension has mislead you. Electrons are, but others are not. Atoms are something like 99.99+% empty.

    I don't know about you, but I'm really confident that I exist I'm also pretty sure that @Drakkith exists because I just can't see a figment of my imagination having made up being from Texas :smile:
     
  4. Oct 11, 2015 #3

    Drakkith

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    Obviously we exist, otherwise we wouldn't be here to have this conversation (philosophical aspects of this issue aside).

    The size of a fundamental particle is difficult to talk about. If you probe an electron at smaller and smaller distances, you eventually find that the electron is better thought of as being 'smeared out' across some volume of space.

    As far as I know, all fundamental particles are routinely said to have zero size, not just electrons.

    I'm just a figment of your fig newtons imagination.
     
  5. Oct 11, 2015 #4

    Nav

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    But atoms are still just empty space right?
     
  6. Oct 11, 2015 #5

    phinds

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    Hm ... I guess I've misunderstood that all these years. My misunderstanding was based on the common statement that atoms are 99.99%+ empty space. If everything's a point particle, then EVERYTHING is empty space. That doesn't seem to make sense.

    EDIT: Oh, I see. Quarks are fundamental but protons and neutrons are not. My mistake.
     
  7. Oct 11, 2015 #6

    phinds

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    No, atoms are made up of protons and neutrons and electrons. The electrons have mass but are dimensionless. The protons and neutrons have mass and are not dimensionless.
     
  8. Oct 11, 2015 #7

    Drakkith

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    That depends on what you think of as empty space. See below.

    Indeed. That's why I prefer to think of an atom as being filled with various fields and such of the smeared out electrons, protons, etc.

    Nav, I can't answer your question except to say that I know of no concrete view of whether an atom is empty space or not. The atomic and subatomic world appears to defy conventional descriptions for these things.
     
  9. Oct 11, 2015 #8

    bhobba

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    Of course not. In Euclidean geometry a point has zero size but 'point' objects that occupy such a space means it contains something so obviously is not empty. And where you would got the idea it means we don't exist has me beat - of course we do. We discuss science here - not word games.

    Thanks
    Bill
     
  10. Oct 11, 2015 #9
    Well I would think it should be fairly easy for you to conclude as a matter of observation that you do in fact exist.
    Therefore something must be wrong with your premise.
     
  11. Oct 11, 2015 #10

    phinds

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  12. Oct 11, 2015 #11

    bhobba

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    In many ways Quantum Field Theory is a much more satisfactory view of the world.

    To the OP you might find the following illuminating of the kind of questions you are pondering:
    https://www.amazon.com/Fields-Color-theory-escaped-Einstein/dp/0473179768

    Thanks
    Bill
     
  13. Oct 11, 2015 #12

    Nugatory

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    If you choose any point inside an atom, there is an non-zero probability that you will find an electron there if you look. Whether the electron is a point particle or not, that doesn't sound like empty space to me.
     
  14. Oct 12, 2015 #13

    There is no such thing as empty space. And you can argue there are no particles either. There are only fields and their schaumkommen(appearances) as Schroedinger put it.
     
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