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Can atoms be created?

  1. Apr 27, 2013 #1
    It is a fact that atoms make up all matter. Is it possible for living organisms (plants, animals, insects, baterica, etc) to make more atoms by the processes of reproduction? Would it also be possible for atoms to be created as an organism grows?
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  3. Apr 27, 2013 #2
    No. When a living organism grows, it takes atoms from other places: the air, the soil, or other matter which it ingests. The individual atoms are not created from components in the organisms; the only change is that they can accept, give off, or share electrons from their outer shells (that is, change the energy level of these electrons) in order to deal with its energy needs or to rearrange the atoms.
  4. Apr 28, 2013 #3
    Aren't atoms basically made up of energy (Protons and Electrons)?
  5. Apr 28, 2013 #4


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    Atoms, which are created and destroyed all the time, although not in the way you apparently imagine, are made up of electrons, neutrons, and protons. Electrons are fundamental particles. Neutrons and protons are made from quarks.
  6. Apr 28, 2013 #5

    Yes, but the amount of energy needed to create them is huge. Life as we know it can't exist within millions of miles of such goings on. Here on Earth very few atoms are created.
  7. Apr 28, 2013 #6


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    You are correct. I mis-spoke. Dumb as it sounds, I was talking about atoms while my brain, what little there is of it, was thinking about molecules, which ARE created all the time.
  8. May 9, 2013 #7
    No. None of those things can make atoms. They grow by incorporating atoms from the food, air and water.

    But humans have created atoms. Not many of them. It happens some times in high energy physic and the last few elements on the periodic table were all synthesized.
  9. May 23, 2013 #8

    Narvin: first of all, awesome question dude! Though am sure the life forms that we know of can not be synthesisng new atoms in its true sense, we could think of it in a bit different way.....

    Chris: arent the techitium era atoms created made from preexisting ones? I mean consider this along with the post about synthesis of new life..... I mean create atom from scratch and not by using preexisting atoms........

    So plants use the energy of sunlight to create high energy compounds. Can we think of an analogous phenomenon....... ofcourse the energy levels involved are huuuuugely varied and no "living" organism can do it but can we think of a subatomic atom synthesiser that uses an energy source to produce atoms like it uses the energy to start off interaction between quarks etc. (I have no idea about quantum physiscs n am just wondering)? (Agreed that this sounds insanely far fetched but I say why not???)
  10. May 23, 2013 #9


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    I think the OP is confusing chemical processes with nuclear processes. Animals and plants use chemical processes to reproduce and grow. AFAIK, no life forms use nuclear processes to accomplish the same vital functions.
  11. May 23, 2013 #10


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    This would be a pure speculation. We don't understand yet how the matter was created during Big Bang - that is, we understand reasonably well how it worked from some point, but we don't understand earlier parts. The main problem is - how did it happen that we ended with a Universe being filled mainly with matter and only traces of antimatter.
  12. May 23, 2013 #11
    You have a point. Even the synthesized atoms were not created "from scratch". Because as you say they started with some other atom.

    But, even in nature, atoms are not created from scratch. Almost all of them are created from fusion of hydrogen atoms and from there the heavier atoms. So I guess only hydrogen was created "from scratch" But even then, one might argue that nature created the hydrogen atom from a hydrogen "ion", the proton. So not even the hydrogen as created "from scratch". It all condensed from energy some short time after the big bang and all that has happened since is just re-arranging the parts.

    It all just semantics. The answer depends on how you define "from scratch"
  13. May 23, 2013 #12
    If you assume the universe at one time had many trillions of times more mass and by random chance there was slightly more mater than antimatter so after a rather energetic combination of mater and antimatter what is left for us to observe is the slight excess of mater that was not destroyed. The slight imbalance came about as a quantum mechanics "chance" fluctuation that was then amplified by inflation. So the total amount of mater was determined by pure luck. It could have turned out to be twice as much or zero.

    As I understand it, this is the "standard" or most common explanation. I don't think I "like" this explanation.
  14. May 23, 2013 #13


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    As far as I know this is not an explanation, but hand waving :wink:
  15. May 23, 2013 #14
    As far as I know, this is not even the standard explanation, because quantum fluctuations usually result in the creation of matter-antimatter pairs. There was nothing to amplify. The standard explanation is: no one knows yet. Now and then there is a story about some particle decay violating CP symmetry, then the popular press runs articles about the mystery of the preponderance of matter being solved, but when the calculations are all done, it still doesn't work.
    Last edited: May 24, 2013
  16. May 24, 2013 #15
    there is always cold fusion, lol just kidding
  17. May 24, 2013 #16


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    This is veering too far away from the OP. If people are interested in matter creation, they should bring it to the physics subforums where the experts are.

    Coming back to the OP, which is quite restrictive in the scope, I do not know of any biological process in which atoms are created. Someone who is an expert in biology can verify or correct me on this. As has been mentioned, biological processes involve chemical reactions, which do NOT create atoms. And just because atoms are made up of energy doesn't make it possible to simply create one. It takes a lot of energy to create atoms.

  18. May 24, 2013 #17


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    In my experience - and I mean this in no disrespect to the OP - this question is typically asked by very young people who simply assume the first time they hear of cell division, and before they learn anything else about biology or chemistry, that it is a creation of matter.
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