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As the electrons spin

  1. Sep 8, 2010 #1
    As the electrons in my...shirt spin, they are doing these things
    1.Releasing energy in the form of Photons as they come in contact with other particles
    2.As I move on my chair, the energy made from the kinetic energy transfers energy from the chair to my pants and vice-versa, thus
    3.The Electrons in my pants and chair gain energy and(this is where I get stuck, what exactly is happening to the Electrons at this point?)
    4.The electrons release the extra energy in the form of radiation (what determines the wavelengths of the radiation it emits? e.g What determines of my pants electrons release energy in the form of Gamma rays or Microwaves)
    5.Nerve receptors in my skin pick up this energy and a signal is sent to my brain to feel heat.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 8, 2010 #2


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    Hi Biologik,

    If I interpret your question correctly, you are asking how friction generates heat you can feel. Is that right?

    If so, then I'm afraid there are a few problems with your explanation! So, all the electrons in your clothes and your chair will be bound to atoms. Quantum mechanics tells us that these electrons can only have certain energies when bound in such a way. If given enough energy, the electrons can jump up one or more levels, and then release the energy again as one or more photons as they return to the ground state (lowest energy level). These transitions give rise to absorption/emission spectra - it is, for example, why sodium lamps look yellow.

    Now in this case, it is highly unlikely that the electrons will be excited up an energy level by friction. Instead, the atoms as a whole are gaining kinetic energy as the materials rub against each other. They move around, but keep bumping into each other so that whilst they have a reasonable amount of energy overall, they aren't going anywhere. This random motion is the definition of heat, which is conducted into your skin (the jiggling motion propagates through the fabric), and is detected by your nerves.
  4. Sep 8, 2010 #3


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    Science Advisor

    As the electrons spin inside Biologik he's:
    1) Posting a thread asking questions
    2) Ignoring the answers
    3) Posting another thread containing the same misconceptions.

    Why bother answering?
  5. Sep 8, 2010 #4
    Need this simplified.

    These people obviously think I'm in college. Maybe they even think I'm in high school. Well I'm not in either, you do the thinking. Someone simplify this for me.

    The electron's spin can point in different directions but never changes in total amount. It always must have exactly 1/2 unit.

    Electron orbitals contain "motion" that is, to continue the analogy, like the earth's movement around the sun. Available orbitals have differing amounts of angular momentum, but also many orbitals in one "shell" have the same total angular momentum but arrange it differently.

    Basically I am asking for someone to explain to me how electrons spin and what the orbitals actually are.
  6. Sep 8, 2010 #5
    Re: Need this simplified.

    An orbital is a region in space (near an atom), where the electron can be when it has a specific energy.

    Besides that, you can view each electron as a small permanent magnet, it has some kind of a north pole and a south pole. This magnetic property is called "spin", because if a charged ball was spinning, it would also behave as a magnet. The electron however, isn't really spinning on itself.
  7. Sep 9, 2010 #6
    Biologik, perhaps someone will recommend a good book at that level, or post a link to a web page. Without specific suggestions, you need to just read books and keep at it until it makes some sense. Many "popular" books go over the basic principles of QM.

    Off the top of my head, you might try the "Mr. Tompkins" adventures, either the original or modernized version. I also suggest "QED" by Feynman, though it is not specific for spin.
  8. Sep 9, 2010 #7
    Re: Need this simplified.

    Biologik, there really is no simple common sense answer. Its a mystery. Thats why quantum mechanics is so weird
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