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Why are we able to feel the textures of objects.

  1. Jul 18, 2012 #1
    I know that since atoms are made up of mostly empty space, everything around us is made up of empty space. Also, (correct me if I'm wrong) I know that the reason why my hand doesn't go though a table when I place my hand on top is because the very small gap between my hand and the table thanks to the electrons around the atoms from the table top and my hand repelling each other. Why are we able to feel textures of objects if there is a gap between us and the object?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 18, 2012 #2
    You can understand it classically through electrostatics. The negative charge of the electrons in one atom repel the negative charge of the electrons in another. It's equivalent to trying to force two similar magnetic poles together.

    In quantum terms, the Pauli exclusion principle forbids two fermions of the same quantum state from existing in the same physical position. You simply aren't allowed to pass one atoms through another, as this would involve electrons sharing a position.
  4. Jul 18, 2012 #3


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    Texture is a macro characteristic and has little or nothing to do with what you are talking about.
  5. Jul 18, 2012 #4


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    Whether the surface is made of atomic-scale physical balls or atomic scale "force fields" makes very little difference when the textures you are feeling are on the order of 10 million times larger.
  6. Jul 18, 2012 #5
    What creates the textures that we feel?
  7. Jul 18, 2012 #6


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    Surface irregularities and differences in material substance/strength/flexibility, etc.

    Are you seriously saying you don't understand this?
  8. Jul 18, 2012 #7
    I assumed the OP was asking why objects are solid, although atoms are dominantly empty space.

    As phinds explains, texture is a totally macroscopic concept. It doesn't have anything to do with quantum mechanics or electrostatics.
  9. Jul 18, 2012 #8


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