Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Are Atoms round shaped ?

  1. Feb 26, 2008 #1
    I have seen some pictures of atoms taken by IBM, they seem like blurred round balls. Even other pictures with sophisticated instruments give a similar view. Are these pictures real ? Can they be trusted ? I ask this because electrons cannot be seen in any way aside from the fact that they are "point like" particles, the nucleus can't be seen directly, so how can you see the sum of two things that can't be seen ?

    Is the image just an artists depiction ? And then why are they round when quantum mechanics says that they are just probabilities ? Anyways very wierd situation, not totally convinced by IBM and others that they have real pictures of atoms.

    And how fast are the electrons circling around the nucleus ?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 26, 2008 #2

    Andy Resnick

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Becasue electron microscopes require the use of many.emany electrons to create an image, what you are 'seeing' is time-averaged. I suppose one could argue that the orbital is being imaged... I'm not sure I would, though.

    In a true quantum-mechanical picture, electrons do not 'move' or orbit the nucleus. In fact, velocity is poorly-defined in quantum mechanics because of the uncertanty principle.
  4. Feb 26, 2008 #3
    My opinion; shapes are not important and nobody may see it. Only known thing about looking is the approximate borders of electron orbits abroad nucleus. So for Bohr, these are circle. Some cases they must ellipse. All cases look like a round thing :) this must be the reason. And you know, angels are illustrated as woman in paintings. Who saw?
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook