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What state of matter are atomic particles in (protons, neutrons, ect.)

  1. Mar 19, 2012 #1
    What state of matter are atomic particles be in? A friend of mine suggested they might be virtual particles.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 19, 2012 #2
    Protons and neutrons? They are certainly not virtual, they are very real. Not sure what you mean by state of matter; if you are thinking along the lines of solid, liquid, gas, plasma, bose-einstein condensate, etc, then sorry, but unfortunately these concepts don't really make sense on an atomic scale. They are macroscopic things; even talking about a bose-einstein condensate doesn't make too much sense without a few hundred (thousand?) atoms involved.
     
  4. Mar 19, 2012 #3

    Drakkith

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    Staff: Mentor

    I don't think single particles can be considered to be in a "state" of matter. It is how they interact with each other that determines what state they are in.
     
  5. Mar 20, 2012 #4
    Interesting hypothesis. I was thinking that pehaps the proton or electron is simply electric energy that joins up together. Not sure about the neutron. When I say virtual I mean could protons, neutrons, and electrons pop into existance and many of them act together to make some substance (a solid, liquid, or gas). Thank you both for your imput. Any more information is welcome as I will continue to research this matter.
     
  6. Mar 20, 2012 #5

    Drakkith

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    Protons, neutrons, and electrons are subatomic particles that have certain properties such as charge, mass, spin, etc. They are not electric energy. Remember, energy is the ability to perform work.

    No, virtual particles have a specific definition that is used in science.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_particle
     
  7. Mar 23, 2012 #6
    Could QCD have any part in this. Could the strong force govern how virtual particles come into existance? Also how could a proton be a bose-einstien codenstate if the particle interacts with others and has mass. I understand that it has spin and charge. I'm still in school so keep it simple.
     
  8. Mar 23, 2012 #7

    Drakkith

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    Instead of asking IF the strong force governs virtual particles, instead ask HOW they come into existance. The answer to that is very complicated and involves an understanding of the way Quantum Field Theory works. I honestly don't even understand it myself.

    Protons by themselves cannot form bose-einstein condensates, as a proton is a Fermion and cannot occupy the same state. Pairing protons up in the nucleus of an atom can result in the atom itself as a whole acting like a bose-einstein condensate, as the spins of the protons and neutrons can all cancel out to make the atom spin 0 as a whole, making it a boson.
     
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