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Mind Blowing Facts they never taught you in school - Part 3 (Atom)

An avid reader, crazy about knowledge. Believes each day has something new to teach. Passionate collector of facts of the world and beyond.

1. The Atom

The smallest integral unit that all matter, visible and invisible, is made of. Just as mysterious to modern scientists as it was to Rutherford and Einstein.

Depiction of a Lithium atom. (Yes I was reminded of the Big Bang Theory too!)

Depiction of a Lithium atom. (Yes I was reminded of the Big Bang Theory too!)

  • Atoms are exceedingly small. This hyphen - is about 1 mm. Say you were to divide it into a thousand equal widths. What you get, is a micron(the unit used to measure micro-organisms). Now take one micron from your pack of thousand, and divide it into ten thousand equal parts. That is the diameter of an atom.
  • Atoms are made of protons, neutrons and electrons. Atoms are not solid. They do have a solid nucleus in the middle(consisting of protons and neutrons) but the diameter of an atom is nothing but the orbit beyond which electrons of that atom very rarely strays. Envision rotating fan blades.
  • Atoms are mostly empty space. It is really fascinating to ponder how these empty balls with no outer shell come together to create trees and living things and metals and all sorts of solid, rigid, hard things both living and non living.

2. Nucleus

  • Nucleus is a clumped ball of protons and neutrons. Protons are positively charged and neutrons have no charge.
  • Almost the entire mass of the atom is the courtesy of its nucleus.
  • Nucleus is 1/100,000th the size of the atom. A famous comparison is that of a pea in the middle of a racetrack.
  • The atom is mostly empty space. And given that whatever the atoms weighs is almost entirely the nucleus' mass, that "pea" is many thousand times heavier than the racetrack.

3. Electron


Don't mistake the dots in the electron cloud as actual electrons. They are not. This is just an attempt at depicting the fact that a single electron can be everywhere(See next point. I know this sounds crazy, but that is because it probably is).

  • Electrons are negatively charged. They go around the nucleus, albeit in no particular direction. There is nothing as haphazard and chaotic in the known universe, as the way an electron behaves. Christopher Nolan's Joker ain't got nothing on an electron's chaos game.
  • All matter is made of atoms that carry negatively charged electrons as their fuzzy cloudy shell. Do you know what that means? It means you have never actually touched anything in your entire life. Even the chair you're sitting on right now, you're actually levitating above it at a height of one angstrom( one hundred millionth of a centimeter), your electrons and its electrons unsparingly relentlessly opposed to any closer intimacy.

4. Behaviour of electrons

Particles in the sub-atomic world behave NOTHING like our world. Electrons are credited with the most atrociously eerie properties.

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  • Electrons revolve around the nucleus. This sentence might compel you to visualize planets revolving around the sun, but I'm afraid this is nothing like it. Say a single electron is revolving around a nucleus. This means, that at any given point of time, it can be anywhere. Not just that, it can be somewhere else too. At the same exact time! The same goddamn electron! Consider this; Running fan blades create a blur because there are three to four of them rotating at high speed generating the illusion of being everywhere at the same time. Electrons do the same thing, except, they do not delude you into thinking they are everywhere, they Actually Are!
  • There is a term called quantum leap. It means that an electron could ''leap'' from one orbit to another without taking the road between. It starts from A, and it gets to B, but it never takes the road from A to B. In fact it doesn't take any road! It just disappears from A and appears at B!
  • Electrons behave both like particles and waves. Firing an electron beam at a gold foil(famously done by Rutherford) you will find that some particles went through and some of them bounced back. It is impossible to contemplate how two particles, no different from each other could behave so entirely differently that one of them goes clean through a foil and another bumps and bounces back.
  • If you have absolutely no idea what the hell I'm talking about, you might take refuge in the fact that even scientists have no damn idea how it is possible for subatomic particles to behave the way they do.

Here's a list of famous remarks from famous people.

1) Niels Bohr once said at a conference that the question was not whether it was crazy, but whether it was crazy enough.

2) "Don't try." was Heisenberg's reply when he was asked how one could envision an atom.

3) Bohr had also famously said that a person who wasn't outraged at first hearing the quantum theory, didn't understand what had been said."

For more amazement!


Mridul Rai (author) from Kolkata, India on August 21, 2015:

Thanks for filling me with new energy bro! Much love to you!

Certified Noob on August 21, 2015:

Fantastic Hub !!!! Knew most of the things but you have a nice way of putting them .

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