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

In summary, a ray is a mass-less, electromagnetic phenomenon that can be described as a photon and must travel at the speed of light. In atomic physics, the term "particle" is not helpful as quantum objects can exhibit both wave and particle characteristics depending on how they are measured. Photons and electrons are examples of quantum objects. Online references and peer-reviewed papers can provide further insights into these concepts.
  • #1
geoelectronics
97
19
Homework Statement
Would you please clear up the terms as used in their atomic structure context: Ray, Particle
Relevant Equations
I=?
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.

George
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #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.
 
  • Like
Likes geoelectronics

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

1. What is an atom?

An atom is the smallest unit of matter that retains the properties of an element. It is made up of a nucleus, which contains protons and neutrons, surrounded by electrons in energy levels.

2. What is a nucleus?

The nucleus is the central part of an atom that contains most of its mass. It is made up of protons, which have a positive charge, and neutrons, which have no charge.

3. What is an isotope?

An isotope is an atom of the same element that has a different number of neutrons in its nucleus. This can result in different atomic masses, but the same chemical properties.

4. What is nuclear fission?

Nuclear fission is the splitting of an atom's nucleus into two or more smaller nuclei. This process releases a large amount of energy, which is used in nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons.

5. What is radioactive decay?

Radioactive decay is the spontaneous breakdown of an unstable atomic nucleus, resulting in the release of radiation in the form of alpha, beta, or gamma particles. This process can change the composition of an atom and can also be used in various medical and industrial applications.

Similar threads

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
2
Replies
49
Views
3K
Replies
1
Views
647
Replies
3
Views
138
  • Electromagnetism
Replies
28
Views
2K
  • High Energy, Nuclear, Particle Physics
Replies
4
Views
2K
  • High Energy, Nuclear, Particle Physics
Replies
10
Views
2K
  • Beyond the Standard Models
8
Replies
264
Views
15K
Replies
13
Views
2K
Replies
7
Views
5K
  • High Energy, Nuclear, Particle Physics
Replies
6
Views
2K
Back
Top