Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Bohring model of the atom

It is kind of weird that we use the Bohr model of the atom, a man who advocated that quantum mechanics as a theory was complete (despite all its partially explained weirdness - presumably he felt it meshed well with his model of the atom).
Interestingly, it is known that Einstein found quantum theory “quite intolerable that a [fundamental particle] exposed to [a force] should choose of its own free will, not only its moment to [move], but also its direction. In that case, I would rather be a cobbler, or even an employee in a gaming house, than a physicist”. In addition to quantum theory being a bit too weird to accept in its present form, the Bohr model of the atom has other things that I'm just not comfortable with.

A defining feature of any model of the atom should be that it allows for the elements we know of to be stable. The standard model of physics says that there are four fundamental forces in nature, but when trying to understand why an element like hydrogen or helium is stable, only two fundamental forces are relevant: the electromagnetic force and the strong force. As many know the electromagnetic force involves negatively charged things being attracted to positively charged things. So hydrogen, has its two sub-atomic components (the proton and the electron) strongly attracted to each other by the electromagnetic force. However, the strong force acts in an opposite manner to the electromagnetic force – it attracts two particles that have the same charge allowing an atomic nucleus with many positively charged protons right near each other. Now for hydrogen to be stable I suspect that the strong force must also have a counterpart whereby oppositely charged particles are repelled from each other, otherwise the electromagnetic force would cause hydrogen's electron to obliterate into its proton regularly - hydrogen would be unstable.

Now if a nucleus has 3 protons like with Lithium, then it would make sense for the nucleus to exert some strong force to repel the element's three electrons. I expect that there has to be a force that repels the three-proton-nucleus and the orbiting electrons for the atom to be stable.

The Bohr model of the element Lithium: