If you don't believe in atoms

  • #1
1,434
2
Hello,

Someone I know doesn't believe in atoms. I know it sounds strange: the person acknowledges that the model that is used is useful for calculations, but apparently the idea of an atom sounds "too perfect". And apparently the structure of an atom lattice is also too perfect. But aren't there "pictures" of atom lattices using tunneling microscopes? Or atomic force microscopes? So my question is: can anybody refer me to a nice picture of atoms so I can make the idea of atoms more plausible? I'm also posting here because some of you guys maybe also have other arguments for why atoms are more than guess-work.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Pengwuino
Gold Member
4,989
16
Just take a quick google for scanning electron microscope pictures or what have you. Of course, they're all artist renditions for the most part... so it really comes down to what kinda proof the person is looking for. Also, how is the idea of an atom "too perfect"? Atomic physics is complicated, just as everything in physics.
 
  • #3
1,434
2
I know, I found the objection "too perfect" quite vague too. But I can imagine that it can come across as unreal, that's why I thought of showing pictures. The reason I showed here asking for pictures is that I don't know in what way I can claim they are pictures. I mean, they are some sort of experimental verification, but to what degree are we making those pictures into what we want to see. Is it just the idea of bouncing a basketball against a wall to discover where the wall is?
 
  • #4
AlephZero
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
6,994
293
The word "believe" is a warning flag. Keep in mind Bertrand Russell's definintion: "belief" is "that for which there is no evidence".

If his viewpoint really is about "belief", don't waste your time on him. On the other hand if he has a different theory that claims to explain some observed phenomena, then you might have a starting point for a rational discussion ("rational" = "without the b-word").
 
  • #5
ZapperZ
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
35,847
4,676
Hello,

Someone I know doesn't believe in atoms. I know it sounds strange: the person acknowledges that the model that is used is useful for calculations, but apparently the idea of an atom sounds "too perfect". And apparently the structure of an atom lattice is also too perfect. But aren't there "pictures" of atom lattices using tunneling microscopes? Or atomic force microscopes? So my question is: can anybody refer me to a nice picture of atoms so I can make the idea of atoms more plausible? I'm also posting here because some of you guys maybe also have other arguments for why atoms are more than guess-work.

This is a rather futile argument, because his objection is unfalsifiable.

If I say I don't buy the idea of atoms because it sounds strange, how do you falsify that? The objection is based on personal feelings and a matter of tastes. You might as well argue about someone's favorite color.

Just TELL him (the way he TOLD you he didn't believe in it) that his "belief" contradicts all available scientific evidence, and that challenges to a scientific idea can only come from valid scientific evidence, not based on a matter of tastes. Beyond that, you're wasting time and effort for nothing.

Zz.
 
  • #7
131
0
If his viewpoint really is about "belief", don't waste your time on him.

I agree. Showing him STM/AFM images won't sway him. He'll just respond "I don't believe in STM/AFM either".
 
Last edited:
  • #8
194
0
The word "believe" is a warning flag. Keep in mind Bertrand Russell's definintion: "belief" is "that for which there is no evidence".

If his viewpoint really is about "belief", don't waste your time on him. On the other hand if he has a different theory that claims to explain some observed phenomena, then you might have a starting point for a rational discussion ("rational" = "without the b-word").

Quite right. "Belief" is never rational, but just a personal feeling.
 

Related Threads on If you don't believe in atoms

Replies
3
Views
997
Replies
9
Views
2K
Replies
5
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
12
Views
4K
Replies
13
Views
2K
A
  • Last Post
2
Replies
25
Views
23K
Replies
8
Views
6K
  • Last Post
Replies
9
Views
3K
Top