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Electrons you come in contact with

  1. Dec 21, 2003 #1

    Nim

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    If you tap on a desk, or are walking, does that energy that is being transferred cause electrons in the desk or ground to jump oribitals and emit infrared light?

    Also, I've read that electrons never touch each other, and that there is actually some space between you and everything that you think you touch. So you never actually touch any of the food you eat, or anyone you kiss, or even the floor that you're walking on. Is the relationship between electrons kind of like the relationship between magnets with opposite poles facing each other? Where the electron particle is like the magnet itself, and the electron's field is the like the magnet's field? So the electron particle itself doesn't actually touch any other electron particle, but both of their electromagnetic fields do, just like magnets don't touch each other sometimes but there magnetic fields do? So you don't actually touch anyone elses or anything elses electrons, but you do touch there electromagnetic fields with yours?
     
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  3. Dec 22, 2003 #2
    About not actually touching the electrons in the food you eat and all the other objects you touch daily, how come you can feel that you are touching them?
     
  4. Dec 22, 2003 #3

    chroot

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    The concepts of 'touch' and 'feel' just don't have a well-defined meaning for subatomic particles. Your magnet analogy is quite correct. Electrons "feel" each other not by touching, but via the electromagnetic field.

    - Warren
     
  5. Dec 22, 2003 #4
    It is a complicated picture, but don't forget that electrons aren't little particles whizzing round - they also act as (are?) waves. Electons acting as waves can cause interference patterns - how do you defime an interference pattern of two waves in terms of 'touch'?

    Chroot's point that "The concepts of 'touch' and 'feel' just don't have a well-defined meaning for subatomic particles." is spot on!
     
  6. Dec 22, 2003 #5
    So that means that when we touch for example a desk, we touch the magnetic field? [?]
     
  7. Dec 22, 2003 #6

    chroot

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    The electrons in your finger are repelled by the electrons in the desk (and vice versa). The result is a force acting on both your electrons and the desk's electrons, due to their electrical repulsion (I wouldn't involve magnetism here -- magnetism deals with charges in motion, but you only need to consider electrons sitting still to understand this). Your fingertips have little sensors in them that measure pressure (force per unit area), and transmit that information to the brain, and you percieve that you're touching the desk.

    - Warren
     
  8. Dec 22, 2003 #7

    Nim

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    The electromagnetic field.

    If you looked at everything you touched with a really good miscroscope, you would see a thin space between you and everything.

    At this site What's in a touch, it says:

    "Even standing on the floor, you are really supported by a very thin layer of electromagnetic force; no atoms of your foot actually touch atoms of the floor!"

    "Don't the scissor blades have to touch what they're cutting, in order to cut?
    No, they don't. Atoms can't touch, remember? They just push against each other with an electromagnetic force. That's what happens with the scissors"
     
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