# Observing states of atoms.

1. Feb 4, 2013

### 0day

Physics noob here. I was wondering, is there a way to measure time delay between the movement of one part of an atom from another? Is there any?

2. Feb 4, 2013

### ZapperZ

Staff Emeritus
"Movement" of what part of an atom?

Zz.

3. Feb 4, 2013

### 0day

I'm trying to get a better grasp on whether protons and neutrons moving are separate or the same in time.

Last edited: Feb 4, 2013
4. Feb 4, 2013

### ZapperZ

Staff Emeritus
This is a bit puzzling.

Typically, when one asks "states of atoms", these are the electronic states.

So now I'm confused to what exactly you are asking for.

Zz.

5. Feb 4, 2013

### 0day

Well electrons move at a rate that is supposed to be limited to the speed of light, so for example if a unit consisting of 2 atoms is pushed by a force, it would resemble a pool ball effect correct? But is this same effect true for neutrons and protons? Specifically is there a pool ball effect on protons and neutrons, or are they effectively linked in time?

6. Feb 4, 2013

### ZapperZ

Staff Emeritus
There are several puzzling issues here:

1. Electrons in atoms/molecules don't actually "move". The quantum description of their states do not have such a description (also see the FAQ subforum on why electrons in an atom don't crash into the nucleus).

2. I'm not sure what you mean by the poll ball effect. Are you thinking of two things colliding physically? In a solid, the simplified model of the atoms arrangement is via linking them with "springs", or as an arrangement of harmonic oscillators. This is how action, or force, is transmitted. The valence electrons are the ones involved in connecting one atom to another. The nucleons are not involved at all in all of this fun, other than collectively undergoing the translation.

3. The activity going on in the nucleus isn't as easy as you think. Often, one can't think of the protons and neutrons being separate entities while they are in the nucleus (that's why often times they are called partons). I'm just not sure to what extent do you want the details.

Zz.