I think most of the silliness of modern, small-scale physics stems from the fundamental and erroneous notion, adopted quite early in the Quantum revolution, that sub-atomic particles retain their integrity and charge WITHIN the atom. From this one mistaken conjecture, a myriad of ridiculous, complex, and convoluted theories have emerged in the world of theoretical atomic physics.
I stress “theoretical” because if one sets aside the magic and mythology of the EXPLANATIONS offered for atomic behavior, and merely examines the successful predictions and manipulations of atoms, molecules, and their phenomena, then–and only then– can one concur with that fallback defense (or pre-emptive offense) of Quantum physicists that “Quantum theory is the most successful scientific theory in history.”
The statistical predictions of future events made from the statistical analysis of past events (experiments) is what has been so successful. The sillytalk attempting to EXPLAIN the statistics via conjectural theories has not been tested at all, and in fact, it CAN’T be tested due to rules imposed by the set of underlying theories themselves. How convenient! Like any good religion, the Religion Of The Quantum is internally consistent and unbreachable from the outside.
If anything, the acceptance of the fairy-tale explanations of Quantum theorists has likely been counterproductive, in the sense that such unquestioned faith can hold back people, in any religion, from seeing the real truths staring them in the face. It would be all but impossible for any self-respecting physicist today (the successful ones all being specialists in some very particular field) to question the theoretical tenets of the subatomic environment laid down by the demi-gods of the Quantum revolution. Not only would a second-guessing physicist not wish to invite upon himself the opprobrium, ridicule, and career-risk of mounting such a challenge, he, being a specialist, frankly would not have the skillset to do so.
Luckily, being I am NOT concerned about maintaining a career at a major research institution, I can gleefully point out that the emperor has no clothes, and assert that the electron, if it can really be said to exist at all, CEASES TO BE within the atom, and its charge vanishes. The only charge which remains is contained in that energy which circulates over the surfaces of things. I’ll go into this idea a bit more at the end of this post, but for now, let’s make fun of the current theory of atoms, shall we?
Under orthodox theory, an ideal atom is thought to be neutral. It is NOT neutral because it lacks charge. Oh no, it can have plenty of charge. It can be a veritable hotbed of charges. The atom is neutral, so the story goes, because it’s a mixture of (what seems to be deadweight) neutral matter and positive and negative charges which cancel-out each other exactly.
Before going any farther, let me state upfront that I find very fishy the notion that an atom is a sackful of charges which behaves as if it has no charge at all. No mainline scientist has ever claimed that positive and negative charges actually mix, creating “neutral” charges. They seem to think there exist no neutral charges. Filling an atom with the positive and negative charges of modern physics is not like filling a bathtub with hot and cold water– a neutral tepidness is not arrived at. The charges stay separated into negative and positive… apparently, at least for protons, for eons. Because of this, I have my doubts that atoms exhibit the homogenous “neutrality” assumed within certain accepted theories. I think their behavior would be far more erratic and far less stable if there were really all these differing charges sloshing about inside. But perhaps so. At this juncture, I only find it “fishy” and warranting deeper consideration.
One could certainly be excused for wondering… How do scientists know EXACTLYhow many electrons are in an atom anyway? No one has ever claimed to have taken apart a medium-sized atom and opened it up and counted all the electrons they find inside. And isn’t it suspicious that scientists only ever talk about the OUTER electrons? Why the press blackout on the (sometimes) dozens of inner electrons? I mean really… what gives scientists the RIGHT to assign a specific number of electrons to each element?
My historical studies in this area are still ongoing, but it seems that there are a few justifications…
During the time the electron was being “invented,” there was a great interplay between experimental results and the struggle to complete and understand the (still relatively new) periodic table. The VALENCY of elements (how they react with substances) was already a well-established concept… The character of Valency was simply translated by physicists into talk of the behavior and number of OUTER-electrons. Also, studies of atomic spectra suggested justifications for assigning electron number and behaviors to atoms.
Additionally, the “discovery” of the negatively charged electron had been followed by the “discovery” of positively charged emissions from atoms. Suspiciously conveniently, the valence of the smallest unit of positive charge turned out to be an exact match for the valence of the smallest negative charge (The negative charge, by the way, is always and everywhere, according dogma anyway, to be found only in electrons– including inside atoms, and these electrons are always the same mass). Furthermore, researchers discovered (again similar to the supposed electron) that the smallest unit of positive charge was also always associated with a consistent amount of mass– only, the mass associated with the smallest positive charge was many hundreds times heavier than the mass of the electron. This positively charged mass was termed the “proton.” It was also immediately decided that for every proton which exists inside an atom (the continual existence of protons inside atoms was not questioned), there must exist an electron, since atoms are normally charge-neutral.
So, at least from what I can glean from my studies so far, the assignation of a very precise electron-number to each and every element stems from the convergence and interplay of the developments listed: 1) the crafting of the periodic table, 2) spectral emission theory, and 3) the supposed discoveries of electrons and protons.
By this time scientists already asserted that they could determine: 1) the mass any particular type of atom, and 2) the mass of the electron (which, as I said, was asserted not to vary across the universe). What turned-out to be problematic was the mass of the proton…
From the data examined, scientists had come up with a number for the mass of the proton which was perplexing… Their data was telling researchers that the weight of the proton was only HALF what it was expected to be.
Here I arrive at a gap in my knowledge. I’m not sure WHY scientists thought they thought they knew the mass of the proton. My guess is that they had already concluded that Hydrogen was the simplest element and so should possess the simplest configuration: one proton and one electron (you’d be surprised how many blanket-statements, equations, and theories about ALL elements have been deduced mostly from consideration of only the simplest element, Hydrogen).
Once, however, experiments showed that all the positive charge required by an atom was provided by only the about half the weight of the atom, it didn’t take a genius (actually, it may have been, incidentally, a genius) to propose that the second half of the atom’s mass was made-up of NEUTRAL material. This proposition tied a nice bow on things. It was decided, and I think somewhat arbitrarily at the time, that this neutral part of the atom must occur in little pieces which would just happen to be the exact same weight as the proton, and that there would be exactly one neutron present in an atom for every proton. These protons-without-charge would be called “neutrons.”
At this point, if all the rest is taken as granted, assigning electron-number to atoms becomes relatively simple. If the atom is assumed to be composed of three types of materials (the electron, the proton, and the neutron),which all balance-out each other perfectly either by charge (proton and electron) or by mass (proton and neutron), then if we know the number of one of them, we can know the number of the others.
Since protons and neutrons account for over 99.9% of any atom’s mass, so the theory goes, one can divide the atomic mass by the proton/neutron mass… The number of protons will be half the resulting quotient (as will the number of neutrons). Any mass remaining is accounted-for by the electrons present in the atom, or by chalking it up to margin of error (physicists can be very exact when it suits them, but also very forgiving of rough edges when it suits them).
Whatever the number of protons arrived at in this way, it was assumed, for charge-balance purposes, that there would be an identical number of electrons. Thus, any atom which could be weighed could be assigned an electron number. Data from spectral analysis, as well as periodic table position, made for nice supports, also.
Interestingly, despite the perfection of this tripartite division of the atom into the three equally numbered parts of the proton, the neutron, and the electron (how nice and neat, indeed!), there was still the minor problem that all atoms of the supposed same element actually did NOT weigh the same. How could this be?
Scientists had already decreed that every proton in the Universe weighed the same, as did every neutron, and every electron. And since every atom was made-up of only these three things, how on Earth (or in the heavens) could different atoms of the same element weigh different amounts? The additional weight could only come from the addition of one or more of three assigned particles (it just had to!). But more protons would throw the atom out of charge-balance, and more electrons, in addition to ruining the charge-neutrality of the atom, would also muck with the atom’s chemical properties and periodic table position, since scientists believed there existed a direct correlation between electron number and chemical behavior. Gosh, if the additional mass can’t come from more protons, and it can’t come from more electrons, where in Quantum’s name could it be coming from…
Aha!– the only thing left to account for differences in weight between different atoms of the same element was obviously the neutron! And so it went… whenever atoms were found with weights differing from the assigned ideal then the mass differential was attributed to neutron naughtiness. Atoms with more or less neutrons than they are supposed to have (and it does usually tend to be MORE, I think, which is probably a clue to some better theory) are called Isotopes.
Oh… and there was another tiny problem yet… neutrons and protons were consigned to middle of the atom (in what had already been called the nucleus even before the neutron was invented– pardon me, I mean “discovered”). Electrons were imagined spinning around neutrons in differing orbits. However, protons, if they are of the same charge, should actually repel each other, not bundle together at the center of the atom.
To get around this little hiccup, theorists came up with, to my mind, one of the earliest, most ridiculous, and most harmful theories of atomic physics (together with electron “orbits”)… the theory of the “Strong force.” The Strong force is supposed to be some (I say “magical”) power so strong that it overrides the mutual repulsion of the protons supposed to exist at the heart of every atom. Because the Strong force is such a ludicrous idea, theorists had no choice but to keep it sealed-off and away from the rest of the Universe; it would exist, and only exist, inside the holy-of-holies, the nucleus of the atom. The Strong force was not allowed to have any effects on anything outside the nucleus, even within the same atom.
So, this is (partially– it has been a VERY complex ride) how we ended-up with the modern picture of the atom and the hubristic claim that we can assign a specific number of “electrons” to every atom. Scientists have never actually taken apart an atom and laid out its parts on a (very small) table and counted-up protons, neutrons, and electrons.
As I said toward the beginning of this post, I think all of this is bullocks. In reality, all these particles or supposed particles ejected from atoms-under-duress are only birthed at the time of their emergence from the atom. Within the atom, they lose their individual characters, including mass, size, and charge.
I assert also the following : there is only ONE CHARGE-– not two, not a positive charge, not a negative charge… And this one charge only occurs in the form of energy circulating upon the surface of a material. I do not pretend to know WHY there is special energy at surfaces, only that– there it is !
When two or more atoms combine, this surface energy circulates over the entire new combination. Under certain conditions, this multi-atom energy can be made to circulate in a specific direction– such as along a copper wire. In such a case, the entire copper wire takes on the characteristic, electronically speaking, of ONE “material.” Absent of any “juice” to pull or push the circulating energy over the gaps between the atoms comprising the material, the energy will circulate as locally as is energetically favorable– perhaps around a single atom, or perhaps around an integrated group of atoms we call a molecule.