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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Missing Space?

   I'm fairly certain that most of us are familiar with Bohr models. Remember those diagrams of atoms, the ones with a bunch of spherical balls jammed together in the center, the nucleus, with a bunch of other blue balls, the electrons, orbiting it in their own little orbitals?
   If not, don't worry. Here's a picture that might ring a bell.
   The main thing is that most people don't actually know that the Bohr models are really out of scale. There is really more space in an atom than there may seem, however, rarely does anyone draw a model that has the correct scale. "Why is that?" you may ask. Let's put it this way:
   Imagine a lecture hall, one in a university, where people would perform or give speeches. Now imagine there is a seed of and orange someplace in the middle of this gigantic room, maybe left when someone had last eaten an orange and the janitors hadn't yet swept the floor. This will be our theoretical nucleus of the atom. Now, imagine that someplace in the room a fly, or rather several flies, are hovering about. These will be our electrons. Looking at the big picture, we can now imagine how minute the parts of the atom must be, with so much space in between the separate parts. Around us, everything is made up of atoms and we imagine that these objects are already closely packed, enough to stay together so well, but now we hear that in fact, the separate atoms have much room in between themselves. This makes it so that things are actually not as tightly bind as we had originally imagined.

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