# What makes an electron orbit?

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I have been looking at the structure of the atom lately and wondered what makes the electron orbit? You would think if a proton is positively charged and a electron is negatively charged that the two would eventually stick together. I realize in theory that the orbiting electron like a planet never lets this happen. But what makes an electron orbit in the first place and when an electron goes from one atom to another how does it automatically orbit in a way that it does not collide with the proton or neutron? I am not interested in theories (there are way to many of them flying around), but in proof + experiments on what is going on.

Thanks.

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I have been looking at the structure of the atom lately and wondered what makes the electron orbit? You would think if a proton is positively charged and a electron is negatively charged that the two would eventually stick together. I realize in theory that the orbiting electron like a planet never lets this happen. But what makes an electron orbit in the first place and when an electron goes from one atom to another how does it automatically orbit in a way that it does not collide with the proton or neutron? I am not interested in theories (there are way to many of them flying around), but in proof + experiments on what is going on.

Thanks.

This is one of the major problems with the Bohr model of the atom and was part of the argument that lead to the adoption of the quantum mechanical model of the atom.

In the modern model, the electron is not considered to be a little ball orbiting the middle, instead it is a field that takes up the entire region and the shape, size and density of the field is determined by how much energy and angular momentum (and some other things) the field has.

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As you mentioned, an atom has a central heavy part, or nucleus, around which electrons orbit, like the planets around the sun.

That's the Bohr model of the atom, which is obsolete. Current thinking has the electron existing as indeterminate cloud, it's 'position' given by probability and the electron's energy.

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I have been looking at the structure of the atom lately and wondered what makes the electron orbit? You would think if a proton is positively charged and a electron is negatively charged that the two would eventually stick together. I realize in theory that the orbiting electron like a planet never lets this happen. But what makes an electron orbit in the first place and when an electron goes from one atom to another how does it automatically orbit in a way that it does not collide with the proton or neutron? I am not interested in theories (there are way to many of them flying around), but in proof + experiments on what is going on.

Thanks.

It doesn't. Orbits were part of the failed Bohr model, but the correct concepts in it included quantization of angular momentum and energy. An electron in the ground state cannot have any less energy — there is no lower state available.

In the QM model the electrons spend some amount of their time in the nucleus. This is experimentally consistent with e.g. the difference in hyperfine splitting between S states and P states, which have differing amounts of overlap with the nucleus. Also with the occurrences of electron capture decays.

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I have been looking at the structure of the atom lately and wondered what makes the electron orbit? You would think if a proton is positively charged and a electron is negatively charged that the two would eventually stick together. I realize in theory that the orbiting electron like a planet never lets this happen. But what makes an electron orbit in the first place and when an electron goes from one atom to another how does it automatically orbit in a way that it does not collide with the proton or neutron? I am not interested in theories (there are way to many of them flying around), but in proof + experiments on what is going on.

Thanks.

If you are "not interested in theories" then you are not interested in any answer really, because any "proof" or "experiment" needs to be interpreted within the framework of some theory. Without theories we do not can even define what is an "electron", what is an "orbit", what means "an electron goes from one atom to another", what is a "collision"...

The concepts of electron in Maxwell-Lorentz theory, Bohr theory, Lewis theory, quantum mechanical theory, Dirac theory, quantum electrodynamics theory are different. For instance, an electron in Dirac theory has a property named spin, an electron in in Maxwell-Lorentz theory do not have spin. An electron in Bohr theory belong to a given atom, and electron in Lewis theory can belong to two atoms at once, etcetera.

Edited by juanrga

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but the mods here is oppressive so...

I would tell the topic starter to go to... url deleted

Where.. i discuss why... why... why.. electrons orbit.... why atoms form at all.

-Mosheh Thezion

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but the mods here is oppressive so...

I would tell the topic starter to go to...

Where.. i discuss why... why... why.. electrons orbit.... why atoms form at all.

-Mosheh Thezion

!

Moderator Note

Yes, we have this thing about the rules, which you agreed to follow when you joined. One of them is about not hijacking threads by advertising pet theories.

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you... bascially are saying... I CANNOT DISCUSS THE TOPIC.. OR SHARE A THOUGHT... UNLESS I DO IT ON ONE THREAD.

I am doing that.... i did that.. I DID NOT HIJACK ANYTHING.

IN FACT... I WENT OUT OF MY WAY... TO AVOID HIJACKING IT.

I PROVIDED THE LINK.. so any interest person could go there if they wanted to...

this kind of fanatical behavior will drive people away from your site.

gesh.. this is disgusting.

-Mosheh Thezion

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you... bascially are saying... I CANNOT DISCUSS THE TOPIC.. OR SHARE A THOUGHT... UNLESS I DO IT ON ONE THREAD.

!

Moderator Note

Yes, precisely. If you follow the rules, you discuss speculations in one thread, and do not pollute other discussions with it.

Further, you do not drag discussions off-topic by discussing moderator warning. Do not respond to this.

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I have been looking at the structure of the atom lately and wondered what makes the electron orbit? You would think if a proton is positively charged and a electron is negatively charged that the two would eventually stick together. I realize in theory that the orbiting electron like a planet never lets this happen. But what makes an electron orbit in the first place and when an electron goes from one atom to another how does it automatically orbit in a way that it does not collide with the proton or neutron? I am not interested in theories (there are way to many of them flying around), but in proof + experiments on what is going on.

Thanks.

An electron doesn't tend to "orbit" around a nucleus, it tends to "vibrate" around a nucleus, much like a wave. There's also something you have to understand about correlation, which is that in quantum mechanics, things can happen just because they logically should happen.

For instance, if I say an electron travels at 2 miles per second, it will take 1 second for it to travel two mile, but if I say "when the electron's energy equals 3, it's distance form the nucleus will equal 20nm", in the second example, there is no "time" that it takes in order for 3 to = 20nm to be a true statement, the electron's probability is just "equal" to that distance which makes it an instantaneous process, and this is the difference between correlation and causation and also why quantum mechanics itself doesn't violate relativity.

So if we use this to look at why an electron doesn't fall or vibrate into the nucleus, it's because at the electron's lowest possible energy, it's probability isn't equal to anything in the nucleus. An electron's probability of being in the nucleus = 0, and thus the electron doesn't ever fall into it.

Edited by questionposter

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So if we use this to look at why an electron doesn't fall or vibrate into the nucleus, it's because at the electron's lowest possible energy, it's probability isn't equal to anything in the nucleus. An electron's probability of being in the nucleus = 0, and thus the electron doesn't ever fall into it.

Electrons can be in the nucleus, they just don't stay there. The amount of overlap of the electron wave function with the nucleus dictates the amount of hyperfine splitting and the probability of electron capture reactions.

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Electrons can be in the nucleus, they just don't stay there. The amount of overlap of the electron wave function with the nucleus dictates the amount of hyperfine splitting and the probability of electron capture reactions.

So it can go in the nucleus, just not for a long enough time to do anything? But isn't there a nodal surface in the nucleus?

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So it can go in the nucleus, just not for a long enough time to do anything? But isn't there a nodal surface in the nucleus?

Soem orbitals have a wave function that goes to zero for r=0, but not all. e.g. Hydrogen's 1s orbital varies as $e^{-r/a}$. Even for those that do go to zero, you have to recognize that the nucleus has a spatial extent, so the wave function going to 0 at r=0 is not the same as there being no probability of being in the nucleus.

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Soem orbitals have a wave function that goes to zero for r=0, but not all. e.g. Hydrogen's 1s orbital varies as $e^{-r/a}$. Even for those that do go to zero, you have to recognize that the nucleus has a spatial extent, so the wave function going to 0 at r=0 is not the same as there being no probability of being in the nucleus.

The 1s orbital, as other Hydrogen-like orbitals, assumes a point-like nucleus and does not give a correct description for small r. When those orbitals are corrected, by accounting for the finite size of the nucleus, then they no longer go to zero for r=0.

Edited by juanrga

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Soem orbitals have a wave function that goes to zero for r=0, but not all. e.g. Hydrogen's 1s orbital varies as $e^{-r/a}$. Even for those that do go to zero, you have to recognize that the nucleus has a spatial extent, so the wave function going to 0 at r=0 is not the same as there being no probability of being in the nucleus.

So I suppose its often distance from the center of the nucleus, and not its surface.

I guess a better answer then isn't purely just because an electron's probability never reaches 0, but because the oscillation patterns of the electron and the proton different enough that even when an electron is in the nucleus their physical probabilities don't overlap.

Edited by questionposter

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I guess a better answer then isn't purely just because an electron's probability never reaches 0, but because the oscillation patterns of the electron and the proton different enough that even when an electron is in the nucleus their physical probabilities don't overlap.

I wouldn't say that, but then I don't know what a physical probability is, nor does "oscillation pattern" have any meaning to me in this context.

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I wouldn't say that, but then I don't know what a physical probability is, nor does "oscillation pattern" have any meaning to me in this context.

When I say oscillation patterns, I more or less mean the evolution of their wave functions over time, or how I can actually model the physical dimensional coordinates an electron is likely to occupy over time, and with all the quantinization you have the specific orbitals that they have, that's why nodal surfaces are generated.

Physical probability is any real probability greater than 0. It seems only one way it makes sense that electrons and protons don't combine if in fact they do come into contact with each other is because they don't actually come into contact because they oscillations just never line up the right way. It might have to do with some extra-dimensional mani-fold physics and time symmetry, because in mere 4 dimensional space, an electron should combine with a proton if it ever came into contact with it, since in 4 dimensional space, if I just run 2 waves into each other in a 3 dimensional tank of water, they are going to hit each other.

Unless maybe there is some kind of weird ionization energy except with combining? But I don't see why you'd need that.

Edited by questionposter

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When I say oscillation patterns, I more or less mean the evolution of their wave functions over time

Why does the wave function for an atom have to evolve over time.

Electrons and protons don't often combine because it requires a weak interaction, and that has a very short range and small cross-section.

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Electrons and protons don't often combine because it requires a weak interaction, and that has a very short range and small cross-section.

What do you mean it requires a "weak interaction"? What are particle colliders doing that a normal atoms doesn't? If anything, colliders add more energy, unless you mean the "weak force", in which case, what does the weak force have to do with particles combining? Wouldn't the strong force have more to do with that?

It would make sense if there was some kind of ionization energy for electron-proton, but so far I haven't found anything like that, and I also don't know specifically why that stops the particles from combining. Perhaps the quarks are held so tightly together that it takes massive amounts of kinetic energy to break them and then for an electron to combine with them?

What about in the sun? To electrons fuse into protons in the sun?

Why does the wave function for an atom have to evolve over time.

I was thinking because electrons are waves, they physically exist, and according to the math that describes it, they have physical oscillation.

Edited by questionposter

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To describe an atom you can use stationary state solutions to the Schroedinger equation. You can neglect the time dependence of the wavefunction if you aren't interested in any dynamic stuff.

The hydrogen solution has r, theta, and phi but no t.

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To describe an atom you can use stationary state solutions to the Schroedinger equation. You can neglect the time dependence of the wavefunction if you aren't interested in any dynamic stuff.

The hydrogen solution has r, theta, and phi but no t.

So I guess that only leaves this weird ionization energy thing, where some specific energy in some specific way is required to make the interaction happen, but why does that actually need to happen then?

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So I guess that only leaves this weird ionization energy thing, where some specific energy in some specific way is required to make the interaction happen, but why does that actually need to happen then?

Why does ionization need to happen? I don't think I understand the question.

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Why does ionization need to happen? I don't think I understand the question.

It seems there needs to be some kind of minimum energy action in order to trigger the combining of a proton and electron, because it doesn't appear to happen on it's own, but I don't know why it doesn't happen on it's own if electrons and protons do overlap. Perhaps maybe they just don't overlap "enough", like technically their existence does extend infinitely, but that doesn't mean everything is entangled when your not looking at it, and a particle collider provides the minimum energy necessary to force an electron into a proton enough for them to combine, but what's the actual minimum distance for that?

Edited by questionposter

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Oh. Usually "ionization energy" refers to the energy it takes to ionize a given electron from an atom. So I thought you were talking about something entirely different.

I know nothing about electron capture.

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Oh. Usually "ionization energy" refers to the energy it takes to ionize a given electron from an atom. So I thought you were talking about something entirely different.

I know nothing about electron capture.

I know ionization energy isn't the right term, but like I said I don't know what the right term is, so I don't know what else to call it really.

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