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Proton-electron orbital

  1. Jun 25, 2004 #1
    When an electron is orbiting a proton, why is it not compelled to be attracted to the proton? Why doesn't it stick to the proton?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 26, 2004 #2


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    kinetic energy, of course.

    why does not release its energy via radiation? Because of quantum theory.
  4. Jun 28, 2004 #3
    You mean the centerepital force is what keeps them from colliding? Can you expand on this?
  5. Jun 28, 2004 #4


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    Imp, basically yes. The historical problem was that the electron is a charged body, thus it is supposed to radiate, losing energy and then losing centrufugal force. This was the problem adressed, and solved, with quantum mechanics.
  6. Jun 28, 2004 #5
    There is no energy state available that has it sticking to the proton. This is one of the problems that led to QM, as has been noted. Only specific energy states can be occupied.

    The s-state electron's orbital actually has it in the nucleus some fraction of the time, but to actually combine with the proton would require a weak interaction, and that has a really small cross-section.
  7. Jun 28, 2004 #6
    The fact that it loses energy prevents it from being attracted to the proton?

    Just how was it resolved?
  8. Jun 30, 2004 #7
    No, it's still attracted, which is why there is a bound system. QM shows that in bound systems, energy levels are quantized. IOW, not all states are available to the electron - the ground state orbit is as low in energy as it can get.
  9. Jun 30, 2004 #8
  10. Jul 1, 2004 #9
    You are up against the brick wall of QM where all problems are solved by inventing more names for things or actions that cannot be otherwise defined. This practice takes you around in circles, each step is mathematically perfect but grammatically confusing; there is no final explanation. That is why physicist are now inventing 'strings', 'branes' and 'super-strings'. Any day now there will be 'super-duper-strings'.
    It seems that nothing can stop mathematicians from taking physics into the darkest corners of science fiction. If you want to work in this field (and the number of students willing to do so decreases year on year) you will have to jump on the merry-go-round.
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