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In summary, the conversation discusses the behavior of electrons in atoms and how they move from one orbital to another. The Bohr model of the atom is flawed, but the same concept applies to the 3D model. People have modeled the interactions of electrons in atoms with electric fields and there is overlap in the wave functions. The movement of electrons is still not fully understood and is a topic of active research and discussion. The conversation also mentions the evolving understanding of the shape of atoms and the concept of probability wave functions.

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psuedoben said:

The "orbits" are from the Bohr model of the Hydrogen atom. From solutions to the Schrodinger Equation, the wave functions for the electron are actually distributed in three dimensions.

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psuedoben said:

There is actually spatial overlap in the wave functions. I.e. Look at a picture for the wavefunction of a 1s electron in Hydrogen. It will occupy some of the same space that would be occupied by a 2p electron.

People have modeled the interactions of electrons in atoms with electric fields in real time. There are some very interesting movies of atoms interacting with attosecond laser pulses to model how frequency up-conversion works. You can do the same kind of simulation with simpler electronic transitions.

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Quantum Defect said:There is actually spatial overlap in the wave functions. I.e. Look at a picture for the wavefunction of a 1s electron in Hydrogen. It will occupy some of the same space that would be occupied by a 2p electron.

See these diagrams, for example:

http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/hydwf.html

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psuedoben said:do they "jump" there? or do they move from one to another by following a path?

We . don't . know . (gasp! )

The mathematical formalism of QM is silent about what the electron "really really does," "inside" or "underneath" the probability distribution, between observations. That is the province of

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Ok, so what you're saying is that they don't necessarily "jump," their probability wave either just expands or shrinks?jtbell said:See these diagrams, for example:

http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/hydwf.html

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psuedoben said:

It is a bit more complicated than that. I think a better picture is that the wave function "morphs" as the atom changes state.

Here is a video for a simulation of a large porphyrin molecule being excited -- lots of "sloshing" of the electronic wave function!

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Quantum Defect said:It is a bit more complicated than that. I think a better picture is that the wave function "morphs" as the atom changes state.

Here is a video for a simulation of a large porphyrin molecule being excited -- lots of "sloshing" of the electronic wave function!

Ok, that actually makes a lot more sense. That's a very cool visual! It's funny to think of a student's evolution of their understanding of the shape of an atom/position of the electron. First, we learn they're like circles orbiting the nucleus, then they're more oval like and 3D, then we learn that they're probability wave functions.

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that makes sense and that's kind of what i figured the answer to my question would be! i think i am limited in that i am attempting to use what i see occur in the world around me to decipher what would happen on the quantum level, but reality is so much different there it doesn't necessarily translate.jtbell said:We . don't . know . (gasp! )

The mathematical formalism of QM is silent about what the electron "really really does," "inside" or "underneath" the probability distribution, between observations. That is the province ofinterpretationsof QM. There are a number of interpretations that are consistent with the mathematics and with experimental observations. There is no general agreement about which one is best. It's a field of active research, speculation, and endless discussion in this forum.

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