Translational movement of a signal atom in a vaccuum?

In summary: If the walls are made of a material that is not an perfect conductor of electricity then some of the energy will be lost as heat.Yes, the atom would follow an arc but its energy would come from its initial kinetic energy. The arcs would be more pronounced the less efficient the wall is at transferring energy.The atom would follow an arc but its energy would come from its initial kinetic energy. The arcs would be more pronounced the less efficient the wall is at transferring energy.
  • #1
I had a thought-experiment I was pondering the other day. If you could somehow isolate a single atom inside a vacuum inside a Faraday cage, how would that atom behave in terms of translational movement?
 
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  • #2
It would bounce around like a billiard ball with whatever initial energy it had.
 
  • #3
But there's nothing to "push" against? It's all alone and doesn't have the nearby interactions of other atoms to make its own vibrations "count" so to speak. Or at least this is my question.

(a la similar to one trying to run on ice)
 
  • #4
It would not vibrate. It would travel in a straight line at constant velocity until it encountered the wall of the tank, then it would bounce off in a new direction and continue again in a straight line at constant velocity until it hit another wall of the tank. etc...
 
  • #5
AtrusReNavah said:
But there's nothing to "push" against? It's all alone and doesn't have the nearby interactions of other atoms to make its own vibrations "count" so to speak. Or at least this is my question.

(a la similar to one trying to run on ice)

Objects in vacuum push do not push against anything. They move inertially in a straight line until they meet a resistance.

And the atom under observation had some amount of kinetic energy before you removed all the other atoms. It keeps that kinetic energy.
 
  • #6
Yes, but if its energy to "bounce" is from its initial kinetic energy when you got it in there, how does it keep bouncing? Wouldn't this energy eventually run out/not be useable for the same kind of movement?
 
  • #7
AtrusReNavah said:
Yes, but if its energy to "bounce" is from its initial kinetic energy when you got it in there, how does it keep bouncing? Wouldn't this energy eventually run out/not be useable for the same kind of movement?

Every time the atom bounces off the wall there is the possibility of energy transfer from the atom to the wall or from the wall to the atom. If the wall is kept at absolute zero then the atom will eventually transfer all of its energy to the wall and settle onto the floor. It not the atoms of the wall and the atom in the tank will maintain the same average temperature.
 
  • #8
Yeah. Wot he said.
 
  • #9
Fantastic, thanks. :)
 
  • #10
Your posts seem to suggest (sorry if I misinterpreted) that you think an object needs to be constantly supplied with energy to stay in motion. This is untrue. An object in motion will stay in uniform motion unless acted on by an external force. This is Newton's first law.
 
  • #11
Gravity should be acting on the signal atom. The atom should bounce in perfect parabolas (and I rarely use the word perfect).
 
  • #12
Not quite perfect. There will be variations in the strength and dirrection of the gravitational field from place to place inside the container. But since we're talking about 1 atom in a perfect vacuum we must be talking about an idealized, not realistic, senerio anyway.
 
  • #13
Matterwave said:
Your posts seem to suggest (sorry if I misinterpreted) that you think an object needs to be constantly supplied with energy to stay in motion. This is untrue. An object in motion will stay in uniform motion unless acted on by an external force. This is Newton's first law.

I was assuming as stated earlier that when it "bounced" some of that energy would be transferred.

Really though what I was interested in was if gravity could pull it to the bottom.
 
  • #14
AtrusReNavah said:
I was assuming as stated earlier that when it "bounced" some of that energy would be transferred.

Really though what I was interested in was if gravity could pull it to the bottom.

It would indeed follow an arc, but you cannot discount the initial energy it had. You also cannot ignore what the walls are made of and what temperature they are at.
 

1. What is translational movement of a signal atom in a vacuum?

Translational movement of a signal atom in a vacuum refers to the movement of an atom or molecule in a straight line without any rotation or vibration, within a vacuum environment. This movement can be caused by various factors such as temperature, pressure, and electric or magnetic fields.

2. Why is translational movement of a signal atom in a vacuum important?

The study of translational movement of a signal atom in a vacuum is important in understanding the behavior and properties of atoms and molecules in a vacuum environment. It can also provide insights into the fundamental principles of thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, and other branches of physics.

3. How is translational movement of a signal atom in a vacuum measured?

Translational movement of a signal atom in a vacuum can be measured using various techniques such as laser spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, and particle accelerators. These methods allow scientists to observe and analyze the velocity, energy, and trajectory of the moving atoms or molecules.

4. What factors affect the translational movement of a signal atom in a vacuum?

The translational movement of a signal atom in a vacuum can be affected by factors such as the temperature and pressure of the vacuum environment, the presence of other particles or fields, and the properties of the atom or molecule itself (such as its mass and charge).

5. How does translational movement of a signal atom in a vacuum relate to practical applications?

The study of translational movement of a signal atom in a vacuum has various practical applications, such as in the development of vacuum technologies for use in industries such as semiconductors and space exploration. It also plays a crucial role in understanding and controlling chemical reactions and processes in a vacuum, which is important in fields such as materials science and nanotechnology.

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