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Scale model of a hydrogen atom.

A hydrogen atom is only about a ten millionth of a millimeter in diameter, but the proton in the middle is a hundred thousand times smaller, and the electron whizzing around the outside is a thousand times smaller than THAT. The rest of the atom is empty. I tried to picture it, and I couldn't. So I put together this page - and I still can't picture it.

The electron in this model is only one pixel. You’ll have to scroll to the right to see it. Link -via Dump Trumpet

i know it's demonstrating that you're scrolling through empty space - but it'd help to have some reference markers so you can see how far you've scrolled...
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What's more boggling to me is the "emptiness" between the proton and electron. Is the emptiness truly nothing? I can't seem to wrap my mind around space unoccupied by matter.
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It's not really empty. It's an electron cloud. It's not like that at a given moment the electron hangs there at a determined spot like a little bead.

Quantum physics is impossible to wrap one's mind around, and this kind of demonstration is not helping.

At that level of magnification, all you have is a probability of finding something. The electron will not follow a given path around the nucleus, it jumps around randomly.

The mental image we have of nucleus = planet and electron = moon is very unfitting.
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Yeah, Solo nailed it. The model is misleading and actually incorrect.

Kids are taught the Rutherford atomic model early on, because it's easy to comprehend. A clear analogy to the earth and the moon can be drawn. But it's wrong.

Later, students learn other atomic models such as Bohr's, but they're just models. They can accurately describe what happens to a point, but they're not actually what's happening by a long shot.

What's actually going on is way more mind-boggling than "there's a lot of space in an atom."
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"Perhaps a better model would have the electron zooming around like a crazy moon?"


"The mental image we have of nucleus = planet and electron = moon is very unfitting."
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What is the size of a a sub-atomic particle anyway?

At this scale, you can only talk about a particle's wavelength, which is inversely proportional to its
mass. So, the electron should be huge, and the
nucleus small.

Hmm... there's an idea for another model...

Empty space within an atom is irrelevant.
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