The atom is not a miniature solar system

The atom is not a miniature solar system

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Atoms have long been a subject of fascination for scientists and laypersons interested in natural sciences. At the dawn of the atomic era, many physicists and chemists used the metaphor of a miniature solar system to explain the structure of the atom. However, as our understanding of physics and chemistry has advanced, we now know that atoms are not, in fact, miniature solar systems.

The very large compared with the very small

This article will explore why comparing atoms to solar systems is a bad example and why updating our educational models to reflect current knowledge is essential. Let us first define what an atom and a planet is, respectively:

An atom is the smallest unit of matter that retains the chemical properties of an element. Atoms comprise three types of particles: protons, neutrons, and electrons. Protons have a positive charge, electrons have a negative charge, and neutrons are neutral. Protons and neutrons are found in the nucleus, located at the center of the atom, while electrons orbit the nucleus in shells or energy levels.

The discovery of the atom began in the late 1800s when scientists observed that matter could not be divided indefinitely and that all matter consisted of tiny, indivisible particles. In 1897, J.J. Thomson discovered the electron, a negatively charged particle that orbits the nucleus of an atom. In 1911, Ernest Rutherford conducted the famous gold foil experiment, which revealed that the atom had a small, dense nucleus that contained positively charged particles called protons. In 1932, James Chadwick discovered the neutron, a neutral particle in the nucleus.

The number of protons in an atom determines its atomic number and identifies the element to which it belongs. For example, an atom with six protons is carbon, while an atom with eight is oxygen. The number of neutrons can vary, resulting in different isotopes of the same element with slightly different masses. The electrons in an atom are arranged in shells, with the first shell holding up to two electrons and the second shell holding up to eight electrons.

Atoms are tiny and cannot be seen by the human eye, with diameters ranging from 0.1 to 0.5 nanometers. They make up all detectable matter in the universe.

On the other hand, a planet is a celestial body that orbits around a star, is large enough to be rounded by its gravity, and has cleared its orbit of other debris. Planets are commonly composed of rock and gas and are found in various sizes and distances from their star. They are characterized by their physical properties, such as their mass, radius, density, and surface features, as well as their orbital characteristics, such as their distance from their star, their period of revolution, and their eccentricity. Planets play a crucial role in the study of astronomy and planetary science, as they provide insights into the formation and evolution of our solar system and the broader universe.

The discovery of planets in our solar system began in ancient times, with the naked-eye observations of the five visible planets: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. The discovery of Uranus in 1781 and Neptune in 1846 marked significant milestones in astronomy, as they were the first planets discovered using telescopes. Pluto, initially considered the ninth planet, was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh using photographic plates. However, in 2006, Pluto was reclassified as a “dwarf planet” due to its small size and different characteristics from the other planets in our solar system. The discovery of other planets in our solar system has expanded our knowledge of our cosmic neighborhood and the variety of planetary systems.

Pedagogical problem

Now, one of the main issues with the metaphor of the miniature solar system is that particles behave very differently on a small scale than on a large scale. The laws of classical physics, which govern the behavior of macroscopic objects, break down at the atomic level. Instead, we must rely on the principles of quantum mechanics to describe the behavior of particles at this scale. Unlike the predictable motion of planets in a solar system, the motion of particles at the atomic level is governed by probability waves. The position of an electron in an atom cannot be precisely determined but is instead described by a probability cloud. This intrinsic feature of the universe means that the electron does not orbit the nucleus like a planet orbits a sun but exists in a probability state around the nucleus.

The miniature solar system metaphor could be better for education because it perpetuates an outdated understanding of the atom. This model was developed in the early 20th century, before the development of quantum mechanics. While it was helpful at the time for conceptualizing the atom, it is no longer an accurate representation of its structure. Continuing to teach this model in schools and universities can lead to confusion and misconceptions about the true nature of atoms.

Correspondingly, the metaphor of the miniature solar system is problematic because it implies that the behavior of atoms can be fully understood through classical physics. In reality, the behavior of particles at the atomic level is governed by the principles of wave and particle behavior, known as wave-particle duality. Depending on the circumstances, particles can exhibit wave-like and particle-like behavior, making the behavior of atoms more complex than that of a solar system.

The combination of general relativity and quantum mechanics has been a long-standing challenge in theoretical physics. Both theories describe the universe’s behavior at different scales and under different conditions but use fundamentally different mathematical frameworks and assumptions. General relativity describes the behavior of gravity on a macroscopic scale, while quantum mechanics describes the behavior of particles on a microscopic scale. The biggest challenge in combining these two theories is that they make contradictory predictions in extreme conditions such as black holes or the Big Bang. This peculiarity has led to several proposed theories, such as string theory and quantum loop gravity, but a consistent framework is still elusive.

Teach good

The comparison between atoms and miniature solar systems is a bad example. Not only does it perpetuate an outdated understanding of the atom’s structure, but it also implies that the behavior of particles at the atomic level can be fully understood through classical physics. This circumstance is not the case, as quantum mechanics and wave-particle duality govern the behavior of particles. As our understanding of physics and chemistry evolves, we must update our educational models to reflect these discoveries. By doing so, we can ensure that the next generation of scientists clearly and accurately understands the world around us.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★


This is an original article published exclusively by Space Expert. You may cite it as:
"The atom is not a miniature solar system" in Space Expert, 2024
Permalink: https://space-expert/the-atom-is-not-a-miniature-solar-system/

6,810 thoughts on “The atom is not a miniature solar system

  1. At the beginning, I was still puzzled. Since I read your article, I have been very impressed. It has provided a lot of innovative ideas for my thesis related to gate.io. Thank u. But I still have some doubts, can you help me? Thanks.

  2. I may need your help. I tried many ways but couldn’t solve it, but after reading your article, I think you have a way to help me. I’m looking forward for your reply. Thanks.

  3. Good write-up, I’m normal visitor of one’s blog, maintain up the excellent operate, and It is going to be a regular visitor for a lengthy time.

  4. brillx скачать
    https://brillx-kazino.com
    Брилкс Казино – это небывалая возможность погрузиться в атмосферу роскоши и азарта. Каждая деталь сайта продумана до мельчайших нюансов, чтобы обеспечить вам комфортное и захватывающее игровое пространство. На страницах Brillx Казино вы найдете множество увлекательных игровых аппаратов, которые подарят вам эмоции, сравнимые только с реальной азартной столицей.Бриллкс казино в 2023 году предоставляет невероятные возможности для всех азартных любителей. Вы можете играть онлайн бесплатно или испытать удачу на деньги — выбор за вами. От популярных слотов до классических карточных игр, здесь есть все, чтобы удовлетворить даже самого искушенного игрока.

  5. If you’re on the mobile app, the crypto portion of your account gets a large button at the top of the screen next to your balance. Tap that button to get started. Whereas exchanges like Kraken, Coinbase and Gemini are centralized exchanges where one entity controls the crypto, a peer-to-peer exchange is one where the transaction occurs between two individuals. The buyer and the seller are interacting directly without an intermediary (like a bank or company). P2P transactions can be a lucrative way to cash your cryptocurrency out since you set your price and there are less fees. However, the process is much more involved than loading a debit card or selling on a centralized exchange. If you don’t need cash right away and want to sell on your own terms then this may be a good way for you to convert crypto into cash.
    https://www.gunma.top/bbs/board.php?bo_table=free&wr_id=1073014
    This whitepaper expounds upon the Beenest platform and the Bee Protocols. We aim to offer transparency into our token metrics and a future roadmap of development and expansion. We will discuss how Beenest creates and preserves value for hosts, guests, arbiters, and developers within a decentralized autonomous organization and how our decentralized model offers distinct advantages over the predominant, centralized home sharing model. Firstly if you don’t know what Bee Network is then I’ll give you a quick rundown of what this is. Copyright © 2019 – 2023 – coinsbee The company’s rise has not come without controversies — many of them in fact. Binance has faced allegations it has facilitated money laundering, and the company has been accused of having ties to China, both of which Binance disputes. A Reuters investigation concluded that, between 2017 and 2021, “Binance processed transactions totaling at least $2.35 billion stemming from hacks, investment frauds and illegal drug sales.”

  6. Coinbase cases to be the world’s most prominent approach to purchase and offer bitcoin, ethereum, and litecoin. The mainstream wallet of Coinbase works smoothly on Android or iPhone along with the web. The cryptocurrency put away on its servers is secured by an insurance policy. Coinbase stores by far most of the advanced resources in secure offline storage. Individuals can invest in cryptocurrencies gradually by scheduling their purchases weekly or monthly. Those who are digital savvy embrace cryptocurrency, and it shows in how the industry garners attention on social media. On Twitter alone, there are around 14,000 to 32,000 tweets per day that talk about cryptocurrency.  One of the best cryptocurrencies to buy now, Cardano shed 81% in 2022 but has clawed back some of those losses in recent months, posting a year-to-date gain of 21.5% through Aug. 2. Excluding stablecoins, Cardano ranks sixth by market cap among cryptocurrencies, with a valuation of about $10.4 billion.
    http://bigscape.co.kr/bbs/board.php?bo_table=free&wr_id=20899
    “Bitcoin has failed to exploit the inverted head-and-shoulders pattern fully,” FxPro senior market analyst Alex Kuptsikevich said in an emailed note, pointing to technical bitcoin price trading data. The first Bitcoin real-world transaction occurred on May 22, 2010, a date known to Bitcoin enthusiasts now as Bitcoin Pizza Day. Laszlo Hanyecz paid 10,000 BTC to have two Papa Johns pizzas delivered to him. The pizzas retailed for about $25. At the peak of Bitcoin’s pricing in 2021, the two pizzas would have cost north of $680 million.  In an embarrassingly-long Twitter Blue subscriber post, Bitcoin booster Balaji Srinivasan explained why he closed out his $1 million bet that the cryptocurrency would reach incredible new heights within 90 days.

  7. Our partners have opened a new site vipeth.site I personally supervise the work of employees. In honor of the new year we are giving new users a registration bonus with promo code: NEWUSER24. It gives +70% on the first deposit. Soon we will introduce new artificial intelligence for better work.

    1. Heya i’m for the primary time here. I came across this board and I to find It
      truly helpful & it helped me out much. I am hoping to present something
      back and help others such as you helped me.

      Here is my web page :: more info here (Carina)

    2. Wow, this paragraph is pleasant, my younger sister is analyzing these kinds of things,
      thus I am going to convey her.

      Here is my site; company website (Leilani)

  8. Ahaa, its good discussion on the topic of
    this piece of writing here at this weblog, I have read all that,
    so now me also commenting here.

    Also visit my web-site … see page – Ralf,

  9. When someone writes an paragraph he/she retains the plan of a user in his/her mind that how a user can understand it.
    So that’s why this paragraph is great. Thanks!

    Here is my webpage; article source (Blanca)

  10. hello there and thank you for your information –
    I’ve definitely picked up something new from right here.
    I did however expertise a few technical issues using this site, since I experienced to reload the website a lot of times previous to I could get it to load correctly.
    I had been wondering if your web hosting is OK? Not
    that I’m complaining, but sluggish loading instances times will often affect
    your placement in google and could damage your quality score
    if ads and marketing with Adwords. Anyway I am adding this RSS to my e-mail and could look out for much more of your respective interesting content.
    Ensure that you update this again soon.

    Here is my page :: you can look here – Sadie,

  11. Heya i am for the first time here. I found this board and I find It really useful & it helped me out much.
    I hope to give something back and help others like you helped
    me.

    Also visit my blog – Click here

  12. Everything is very open with a very clear explanation of the issues.
    It was definitely informative. Your site is very helpful.
    Thank you for sharing!

    Feel free to surf to my site: click here

  13. Keren sekali blog ini! 🌟 Saya suka banget bagaimana penulisannya memberikan pemahaman yang baik dalam topik yang dibahas. 👌 Artikelnya menyenangkan dan informatif sekaligus. 📖 Tiap artikel membuat saya tambahan rasa ingin tahu untuk melihat artikel lainnya. Teruskan karya hebat

  14. I loved as much as you will receive carried out right here The sketch is tasteful your authored subject matter stylish nonetheless you command get got an edginess over that you wish be delivering the following unwell unquestionably come further formerly again as exactly the same nearly very often inside case you shield this hike

  15. I loved as much as you will receive carried out right here The sketch is attractive your authored material stylish nonetheless you command get got an impatience over that you wish be delivering the following unwell unquestionably come more formerly again since exactly the same nearly a lot often inside case you shield this hike