We are not empty

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We are not empty

Mario Barbatti 

Quote:The concept of the atomic void is one of the most repeated mistakes in popular science. Molecules are packed with stuff

Quote:Today, as a professional theoretical chemist, I know that Sagan’s statements failed to recognise some fundamental features of atoms and molecules.

Quote:Misconceptions feeding the idea of the empty atom can be dismantled by carefully interpreting quantum theory, which describes the physics of molecules, atoms and subatomic particles. According to quantum theory, the building blocks of matter – like electrons, nuclei and the molecules they form – can be portrayed either as waves or particles. Leave them to evolve by themselves without human interference, and they act like delocalised waves in the shape of continuous clouds. On the other hand, when we attempt to observe these systems, they appear to be localised particles, something like bullets in the classical realm. But accepting the quantum predictions that nuclei and electrons fill space as continuous clouds has a daring conceptual price: it implies that these particles do not vibrate, spin or orbit. They inhabit a motionless microcosmos where time only occasionally plays a role.

Quote:The interior of the protons and neutrons is likely the most complex place in the Universe. I like to consider each of them a hot soup of three permanent elementary particles known as quarks boiling along inside, with an uncountable number of virtual quarks popping into existence and disappearing almost immediately. Other elementary particles called gluons hold the soup within a pot of 0.9 femtometres radius. (A femtometre, abbreviated fm, is a convenient scale that measures systems tens of thousands of times smaller than an atom. Corresponding to 10‑15 m, we must juxtapose 1 trillion femtometres to make one millimetre.)

Quote:If atoms and molecules remained a collection of point-like particles, they would be mostly empty space. But at their size scale, they must be described by quantum theory. And this theory predicts that the wave-like picture predominates until a measurement disturbs it. Instead of localised bullets in empty space, matter delocalises into continuous quantum clouds.

[Image: image?url=https%3A%2F%2Fd2e1bqvws99ptg.c...=3840&q=90]

Quote:Electronic and nuclear quantum clouds in an ammonia molecule. The yellow cloud represents the 10 electrons in this molecule. The small blue cloud is the nitrogen nucleus, while the three green clouds indicate each hydrogen nucleus. Electronic points in front of the nuclei were made transparent so as not to hide the nuclear clouds. Technical details are explained in Toldo et al 2023. Courtesy the author
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2023-08-24, 03:53 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel. Edited 1 time in total.)
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The usual popular "scientific" visualization of solid matter is that it is mostly space. This exposition shows how each atom is in quantum reality a "cloud" localized around the center of the nucleus. But that seems to be only part of the picture. This new visualization doesn't account for the large empty spaces between atoms in a solid, where adjacent atoms in the solid, and also adjacent solid surfaces, are held apart and can't interpenetrate because of the electrostatic repulsion between the electron clouds of the separate atoms.

I would think that the electrostatic fields of the probabilistic quantum electron clouds of each atom would extend way beyond the confines of its cloud, so that overall most of the volume of the solid really is "empty" space containing only electrostatic and magnetic fields.
(This post was last modified: 2023-08-24, 06:31 PM by nbtruthman. Edited 1 time in total.)
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(2023-08-24, 06:28 PM)nbtruthman Wrote: The usual popular "scientific" visualization of solid matter is that it is mostly space. This exposition shows how each atom is in quantum reality a "cloud" localized around the center of the nucleus. But that seems to be only part of the picture. This new visualization doesn't account for the large empty spaces between atoms in a solid, where adjacent atoms in the solid, and also adjacent solid surfaces, are held apart and can't interpenetrate because of the electrostatic repulsion between the electron clouds of the separate atoms.

I would think that the electrostatic fields of the probabilistic quantum electron clouds of each atom would extend way beyond the confines of its cloud, so that overall most of the volume of the solid really is "empty" space containing only electrostatic and magnetic fields.
While you are consistent in being critical of experts reporting in their fields, you do make me think about stuff.  I think the term electrostatic is not appropriate, however I may get your point.  The equations lay out the parameters for two fields.  You guess that they (the fields) extend farther than does the expert (who has measurement data on the issue) and that they contain all the information about the energy.

I am not able to comment on the article, except the "empty atom" was an idea I rejected decades ago as idealization of an abstraction.  I find the author's comments about the subject quite to the point and helpful.  Virtual particles are popping in and out of the picture and must be ignored to call the space empty.  No space is empty in modern condensed matter theories.  Here is hard evidence.

Quote: A Churning Stew Of Nothingness
To get even more specific, classical physics defines nothing, or a vacuum, as a space devoid of matter in the lowest possible energy state. When you delve into the quantum realm, this definition poses a problem. You've probably heard of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, even if you may not totally grasp it. In essence, it says that there's a limit to what we can know about quantum particles. Because everything in quantum mechanics is both a wave and a particle, if you know a particle's position you can't know its momentum, and vice versa. This boils down to the idea that the vacuum isn't really empty. It's actually churning with smatterings of particles that disappear and reappear at random, creating a fluctuating energy field.
https://www.discovery.com/science/Empty-...t-Evidence
(This post was last modified: 2023-08-31, 02:28 PM by stephenw. Edited 1 time in total.)
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