Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Why does the atom not fold onto itsef?

  1. Sep 30, 2011 #1
    If the atom is composed of a nucleus with positively charged subatomic particles, and the electrons are in the outer orbitals which are defined as in an electron cloud, why doe they not attract and the atom does not collapse on itself due to electrostatic forces of attraction. Also is there a way to find out where an electron is in the electron cloud at a specific time, can you model a function of the atoms position in the diameter of the atom with respect to time,or is the electron moving way to fast to be observed? or can you just be somewhat accurate to a decimal? Also I know that electrons and protons are composed of even smaller particles like quarks and gluons, could someone specifiy me the location of these particles and if they have an electrical charge? Also If the atomic theory states that atoms are the smallest indivisible units of matter, why is it that an atoms protons and neutrons can be split into neutrinos, and glouns, and quarks, and isnt it theoritically possible for an atom to be split by such force that the nucleus will be split or broken apart isnt this somewhat correlated to nuclear physics applications we have today?

    Thanks for your time
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 30, 2011 #2
  4. Oct 3, 2011 #3
    The electron has a wave function associated with it. The wave is in the area you would normally find an electron. There is also a probability that the electron is in the nucleus at any point in time due to part of the wave function being in the nucleus.

    According to the uncertainty principle, you can find out extremely precisely where the electron is at a specific time.

    Electrons are not composed of smaller particles.

    The particles are in the nucleus. The nucleons are basically made up of only two quarks. The up quark and the down quark. The up quark has an electric charge of 2/3 and the down quark has an electric charge of -1/3. A proton is made up of 2 up and 1 down quarks. A neutron is made of 1 up and 2 down quarks. The atomic theory has already been changed to accommodate the smaller particles and what many people are learning now is just a simplification.

    Yes, the nuclear physics applications we have today are based upon this fact. It is not only theoretically possible, it has been done. If you want to know more about the elementary particles, there are a lot of useful sites to help you with understanding the standard model.
  5. Oct 4, 2011 #4


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Please start by reading the FAQ sub-forum in the General Physics forum.

Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook