Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Layman's particle physics

  1. Nov 11, 2014 #1
    Hi everyone, i'm trying to build a simulation type program, with various made up, extrapolated elements, generated mainly by random atomic weights, and numbers, the program would end up being sort of a game, you would be able to fabricate, or collect elements with randomized properties, and make structures out of them, for example, you could make a house out of titanium, or you could make it out of something less reasonable, like a gas, or liquid at room temperature, which would fall apart, or melt depending on the environments properties

    anyway, i was hoping some people could help me out, by explaining some properties that could be extrapolated by the structure of certain elements, ie, is there a way to determine a melting point (or get an idea of), determine its solid hardness, determine if it's maleable, or metallic, or magnetic, determine how much energy is inside of it, and how easily it could be used (from what i gather, elements with high atomic weight & number have more energy), or any other interesting properties that could be extrapolated

    any help would be appreciated, pleas also use terms i could understand lol

  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 12, 2014 #2
  4. Nov 12, 2014 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    This doesn't have much to do with particle physics, but properties of matter - or condensed matter.

    Most of our structural materials are compounds, e.g., wood, glass, steel, aluminum alloys. The basis of choice involves strength (and cost) and function. Glass is necessary for windows, but it also must withstand the weather. Similarly, wood is less expensive than metal alloys, but nails or screws/bolts are used to fasten the wood together.

    Folks have built fixed or semi-permanent housing out of vehicles, e.g., busses or airplanes or railroad rolling stock, and we have mobile homes. The housing should be resistant to whatever high winds and heaviest precipitation are possible in the region.
  5. Nov 12, 2014 #4
    Well, i wasn't planning on going that far in depth with it, the main appeal i wanted for the simulation would be using various elements for different purposes, and seeing how it holds up against various environments, it wouldn't have to be realistic exactly, but it would have to generate some interesting properties, extrapolated from essentially, a diagram of that elements atoms, the simulation would allow you to for example, unearth elements (or compounds) out of the ground, and put them into for example, a building, you could choose what materials would be used for different things, for example, you might choose iron for the framework of a building, some carbon compound for the walls, and the floors, and it would be subjected to weather simulations, and you could do this on various planets.

    Compounds was another thing i'd like to implement, for example, you could combine 2 elements, and these diagrams would be overlayed, or merged somehow to produce a new set of properties, perhaps with characteristics of the parent elements

    also, sorry i don't really know what wing of physics this involes, apologies if it's in the wrong forum

    edit: also, i assume certain assumptions will need to be made across the board, because from what i know, pure elements can have different structures and properties, like carbon for example, can be arranged into nanotubes, coal, diamonds, but still be carbon, so i might have to make some assumptions for each element, so i dont have to simulate every different possibly form it can come in
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2014
  6. Nov 18, 2014 #5


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    This is puzzling and confusing. You don't want to be too realistic, but realistic enough? Where is the fine line here?

    Either you just throw out reality and make it up yourself, or you pay attention to the actual physics. Otherwise, your description on where you draw the line is vague.

    Please note that it is VERY difficult to infer the properties of matter simply based on the properties of individual atoms! Some will even say that it is impossible. The COLLECTIVE properties of atoms, when they are in a conglomerate, can be VERY different than their individual, isolated properties. So already, you are being unrealistic in trying to model the behavior such as melting point, etc. simply by looking at your made-up element.

  7. Nov 21, 2014 #6
    You could maybe see if there is something of a Civil Engineering Forum. They might be able to help you on a general materials and how they are affected level.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook