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Quantum Physics for Scientists and Technologists: Fundamental Principles and Applications for Biologists, Chemists, Computer Scientists, and Nanotechnologists by Paul Sanghera

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4

ANATOMY OF AN ATOM

Wings are a constraint that makes it possible to fly.

Robert Bringhurst

Figure 4.0. Neon lights. The quantum reality lightening the classical world.

Courtesy of www.photoeverywhwere.co.uk.

From Las Vegas to Tokyo, neon (Ne) lights and signs make cities, big and small, lively all over the world. The electrons in the Ne or other atoms in the Ne tube are excited to a higher energy state by electricity, and they emit light of a characteristic color when they drop back to the lower energy state. You will see in this chapter how quantum mechanics explains this electronic dance inside atoms.

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In This Chapter

4.1 Introduction

4.2 Quantum Mechanics of an Atom: The Big Picture

4.3 Dalton’s Atomic Theory

4.4 The Structure of an Atom

4.5 The Classical Collapse of an Atom

4.6 The Quantum Rescue

4.7 Quantum Mechanics of an Atomic Structure

4.8 Classical Physics or Quantum Physics: Which One Is the True Physics?

4.9 Living in the Quantum World

4.10 Summary

4.11 Additional Problems

4.1 INTRODUCTION

Ancient Greek philosophers, as early as 400 BC, proposed that all matter was composed of some fundamental constituents, which they called atoms. Based on these ideas, an English chemist John Dalton presented his atomic theory of the chemical elements in 1808. The suggestions that atoms themselves were not fundamental (indivisible) came as early as 1820 from experiments revealing ...

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