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Could atoms ever run out

  1. Mar 29, 2006 #1
    could, theoretically, atoms ever run out, though it is very unlikely. Please Respond:cool:
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 29, 2006 #2

    Astronuc

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    Do you mean, could the universe 'run out' of atoms? Out of matter?

    Not likely, at least not in the next several billion years or so, as far as we know.
     
  4. Mar 29, 2006 #3

    DaveC426913

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    Mimefan's question is perplexing, but not as perplexing as Astronuc's response.

    Both question and response seem to be based on a premise that atoms are being created somewhere and destroyed somewhere.

    If I have a sealed box of marbles, will the box ever "run out" of marbles?
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2006
  5. Mar 29, 2006 #4

    DaveC426913

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    That being said, I suppose a technically accurate answer might make reference to the hypothesis that protons are not stable, that they will, if given enough time, decay into other subatomic particles. Thus, eventually, the number of atoms in the universe will drop by attrition. I ma not sure if this is a genreally accepted fact of the Standard Model, or something proposed by a theory not yet in common acceptance (such as string theory).

    But when I say "eventually", I mean that the time it takes for even one proton to decay is on the order much longer than the time the universe has left (which is in the trillions of years or so).
     
  6. Mar 29, 2006 #5

    ZapperZ

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    Maybe we should wait for the OP to simply explain further what is being asked. I mean "run out" is such a vague concept here.

    Zz.
     
  7. Mar 29, 2006 #6

    Astronuc

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    Actually, my response is somewhat tougue-in-cheek. I perhaps should have added :biggrin:

    Actually, as Zz mentioned, I am waiting for some elaboration on the OP - actually an explanation of what the OP means.
     
  8. Mar 29, 2006 #7
    Generally, I believe the universe exists in energy and matter. Just as water vapor evaporates from the sea and rains over land and runs back into the sea, I believe the universe constantly creates matter from energy which in turn the matter is converted back into energy. Everything eventually cycles so atoms would break down into energy and then be recreated.
     
  9. Mar 29, 2006 #8
    I was always under the impression that there needed to be a appropriate exchange between the two, matter and energy. If that much matter was destroyed there would be a lot of energy released right?



    ________
    "Never be first; try to be second". __ Enrico Fermi
     
  10. Mar 30, 2006 #9
    Yes, a lot of energy would be released.

    Consider, if there really was a big bang that started the universe it probably was a pure energy expansion and the entire universe contained only energy. Once the cycle started, matter was created and eventually collected into the galaxies we see today. If all the matter were converted back into energy, the energy would simply fill up the universe as it was in the beginning.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2006
  11. Apr 1, 2006 #10

    DaveC426913

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    Doh. I shoulda knowed.
     
  12. Apr 3, 2006 #11
    What about the proton's life time? I read that some particles have a lifetime (forgive me that is a very loose use of the word there) allow me to associate the word lifetime as the time untill what we know the particle as currently to change into something else. Like a neutron, that has a very short lifetime when seperated from the nucleus or when created in a reaction. The proton however has a lifetime of approximatly 10^26 years, or something similar to that? I might be wrong on that number if so please correct me, but in answer to the original post, I suppose you could say that eventually matter will eventually change, but i dont know about run out.
     
  13. Apr 3, 2006 #12
    http://www2.slac.stanford.edu/vvc/theory/decays.html
    One thing I wonder is , if violation of Conservation of Baryon Number could occur, what particle(s) would the proton theoretically decay into?
     
  14. Apr 3, 2006 #13
    A positron, some neutrinos, a coupla gammas...
     
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