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Can atoms move from place to place without passing the space

  1. Mar 23, 2014 #1
    thanks for the pretty place.

    i want to ask: can atoms move from place to place without passing the space between them?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 23, 2014 #2


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    Staff Emeritus
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    That's... complicated.

    The position of a particle is uncertain in between measurements, with its position dictated by the probability amplitude of its wavefunction. Even a stationary particle can be in one place during one measurement, and then be in another place during the next measurement. This can lead to the particle actually "tunneling" through a barrier that it shouldn't be able to pass through, a process known as quantum tunneling.

    Then there's also the fact that fundamental particles are considered to be point particles, meaning they take up zero volume. Even so, atoms and their component particles still take up space. The question of how big a particle "really" is has no easy answer. Is it a point particle? Is it the size its wavefunction dictates (which is infinite in extent)? Does the particle travel through space to get to different locations in between measurements?

    As far as I know none of these can be answered at this time.
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