Electron energy shells-where do they come from

In summary, electron energy shells are a way to describe the energy levels of electrons in an atom. They do not have a physical existence and are not "keeping" the electron from the proton. The electron's behavior at the atomic scale is governed by quantum mechanics, which is different from classical mechanics at our scale. The energy keeping the electron and proton apart is a result of the electron being in a higher energy state when bound to an atom.
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electron energy shells--where do they come from

A quick question. Not an expert in physics, so my question will be rudimentary.-----An isolated electron and proton are traveling in space. As they approach each other, a hydrogen atom is formed. My question----what keeps the electron from approaching or colliding with the proton. The electron --now being part of an atom--is now in an energy shell. Where did this shell come from. What is the source of the energy keeping the electron and proton apart---did it materialize from one of the particles , space, ?---
r rosenthal
 
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rrosenthal said:
A quick question. Not an expert in physics, so my question will be rudimentary.-----An isolated electron and proton are traveling in space. As they approach each other, a hydrogen atom is formed. My question----what keeps the electron from approaching or colliding with the proton. The electron --now being part of an atom--is now in an energy shell. Where did this shell come from. What is the source of the energy keeping the electron and proton apart---did it materialize from one of the particles , space, ?---
r rosenthal

It is explained away by saying it has no definite location. It can be "anywhere" to "anywhere" every Planck-second, according to the standard view. The location is "probabilistic". Continuous motion, a staple of classical mechanics, has been abandoned in this problem.
 
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The short answer is that at the scale of atoms the world does not work the way it does for us on our scale. When you push a door open you can easily see that both you and the door are solid and neither can pass through each other or do any other weird stuff. At the quantum scale this is not true. The electron is attracted to the proton but instead of "impacting" the proton as you might expect, it instead occupies an orbital. Why is this? The most accurate answer would require an in depth discussion using the math of Quantum Mechanics. I advise you to take a look at wikipedia or local bookstore for more info on this.

The shell that is spoken of refers to the energy level the electron can have when it is bound to an atom. Again, the shell is simply something we use to describe the layout of electrons around an atom. It is not a physical object. Once this shell is full no further electrons can occupy it, meaning that they must be in a higher energy state. (This also means that when an electron becomes bound to an atom it LOSES energy, resulting in the emission of EM radiation) Note that there is nothing "keeping" the electron from the proton. It is simply not possible for the electron to occupy the nucleus in the same way a proton or neutron does. Thus this does not require any expenditure of energy to keep it out.
 

1. What are electron energy shells?

Electron energy shells are regions surrounding the nucleus of an atom where electrons are most likely to be found. They are also known as electron orbitals or energy levels.

2. Where do the electron energy shells come from?

The electron energy shells come from the quantum mechanical model of the atom. This model describes the behavior and location of electrons in an atom based on their energy levels and probabilities of being in different regions.

3. How are the electron energy shells organized?

The electron energy shells are organized in a specific order, with the lowest energy level (n=1) being closest to the nucleus and higher energy levels (n=2, n=3, etc.) farther away. Each energy level can hold a maximum number of electrons, with the first shell holding a maximum of 2 electrons, the second shell holding a maximum of 8 electrons, and so on.

4. What determines the number of electron energy shells in an atom?

The number of electron energy shells in an atom is determined by the number of electrons in the atom. Each shell can hold a maximum number of electrons, with the first shell holding 2, the second shell holding 8, the third shell holding 18, and so on. Once a shell is filled, electrons will begin to fill the next shell.

5. How do electron energy shells affect the reactivity of an atom?

The number and arrangement of electron energy shells in an atom can greatly affect its reactivity. Atoms with filled outer shells (known as noble gases) are unreactive, while atoms with unfilled outer shells tend to form bonds with other atoms to achieve a more stable electron configuration. This is known as the octet rule, where atoms strive to have 8 electrons in their outermost shell.

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