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Homework Help: Why are protons in the nucleus and electrons aren't?

  1. Aug 15, 2014 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    Why are protons in the nucleus and electrons aren't??

    3. The attempt at a solution

    So this is the question I was asked. I understand that protons are held together by nuclear (or strong) force. I understand that an atom is stable because there's an equilibrium between this nuclear force and the electrostatic force caused by the repulsion between the protons. I also understand that for electrons to exist they must keep moving to keep a certain amount of energy, and that that is related to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. But I don't really know what my professor expects me to get at with this question, and reading introductions to quantum mechanics have just made me more confused. Is there a property or principle I'm missing??
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 16, 2014 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Good start - do electrons feel the strong nuclear force?
    What forces do electrons feel?

    Well, electrons can exist at rest ... the atomic electrons do have quite a high energy though, and that has something to do with the potential they move in. Electrons in a container have a minimum energy level.

    For a QM course - I imagine you will want an answer in terms of the energy levels of a potential. For instance, an atom can be bind a muon in the same way as it binds electrons ... but a muon can be inside the nucleus. What's the difference?

    If this were a nuclear physics course I ask you to consider what happens to electrons inside the nucleus.
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