Please define a few atomic/nuclear terms for me? Thank you.

  • #1
Homework Statement
Would you please clear up the terms as used in their atomic structure context: Ray, Particle
Relevant Equations
I think a ray is electromagnetic, is mass-less, and could be described as a photon. A ray must travel at the same speed as "c" in the same medium.

I think the term particle is used in atomic studies as a physical piece of matter, one that has mass and could hold a charge or be neutral. Being matter it can't exceed "c" in vacuum.

Online references or peer reviewed papers would be very helpful.


Answers and Replies

  • #2
More experienced members will likely give you better answers but I will start of by saying that I don't think "ray" is a particularly specifically defined term. I could be wrong about that, as I am certainly aware of, for example, "cosmic rays" and "X rays".

In atomic physics, or at least in quantum mechanics, it is NOT helpful to think of things as "particles". They are "quantum objects". If you measure quantum objects for wave characteristics, you GET wave characteristics and if you measure them for particle characteristics, you GET particle characteristics. That does not make them wave or particles, however. They are, as I said, quantum objects. Photons are quantum objects, as are electrons, for example.

To be a bit more complete, they are in a sense "particles" but NOT in the classical physics sense of that term but rather in the quantum mechanical sense.
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