Is the Atom Comparable to Our Solar System? Jun 18, 2019 14:03:07 GMT -5
Post by Radrook Admin on Jun 18, 2019 14:03:07 GMT -5
Is the Atom Comparable to Our Solar System?
When I was say kid I read various sci fi stories in which the idea that our solar system was comparable to an atom with electrons as planets and the sun as the nucleus. Of course I was fascinated by such an idea, especially when they took it farther yet and toyed around with the concept that atoms themselves were solar systems with electrons being the supposed planets, where microscopic creatures could dwell. One such story even had and man shrink down to one of those electrons, meet the woman of his dreams there and they are shown running hand in hand through fields of luscious green undulating grass.
Another story, that employed the same concept, had this hapless scientist shrinking down into the subatomic realm, encountering other universes each smaller than the previous one with atoms of their own a process that according to the story, would go on forever. In this scenario, our own solar system would be merely an atom of a far larger universe universe while that larger one would function as the subatomic part of an even larger one add infinitum. Curiously, the late Carl Sagan entertained this possibility in his book Cosmos The question is, are these comparisons between our solar system and the atom justifiable? Well, they would be if electrons were similar to planets and the atomic nucleus were similar to stars such as our sun. However, that is not the case.
Electron Orbits vs Planetary orbits
One main difference is motion. Imagine that you are on your way to Mars and when you arrive it isn't there. After a desperate search you find that it is located somewhere else millions of miles away. But once you get to its next predicted location, it isn't there again. Fortunately, that problem doesn't exist in our solar system. However, such a thing would happen with all our planets if they behaved like electrons. Fortunately, unlike electrons, planets have predictable orbits. In other words we can accurately foretell where a planet will be in relation to its star at any given time based on its velocity and mass. In fact, we base our space missions on being stable to accurately make such predictions.
In stark contrast, electrons appear and disappear seemingly randomly and where they are while they are gone, nobody knows. Some have proposed that they are in other orbits around other nucleuses in other dimensions. Since we are composed of electrons which are doing this, some physicists have proposed the alternate universe hypotheses where that phenomenon creates an endless number of ourselves.
Electrons also have the habit of suddenly shifting from outer orbits to inner orbits and emitting a photon in the process. Imagine Jupiter suddenly shifting to an inner orbit, appearing next to Mercury and giving off light . Imagine the havoc this would cause to a planet inhabited by creatures who had been depending on being just the right distance from their star in order to survive. Also the danger of space travel in a solar system in which our ship might crash into a planet that suddenly appears in its way.
Nucleus Not like the Sun
Another difference is that the atomic nucleus isn't similar to stars since they are not fusing one element to produce another. In fact, the atomic nucleus is made of a positively charged particle or particles called protons and a non charged particle, called the Neutron and the forces involved between the nucleus and the electrons as well as among the electrons themselves are not gravitational nor centrifugal but electrical.
So those sci fi short stories might have seemed remotely plausible to those unaware of the essential difference but they really have no justifiable basis in reality.