For the longest time, humans have been searching for the meaning of life, in any way they can, using all the tools of logic and understanding of the world. Human beings are curious in nature, and this pushes us to try to find answers to everything and understand how nature works.
Apart from this, human beings have also excelled in understanding nature through scientific developments; learning about the laws of fundamental sciences that rule the working of almost everything in our world.
One such development has been in the field of chemistry, where scientists have learned about the particles that make up matter, called atoms. Even though today we know of even deeper concepts about atoms, this understanding has proved to be very useful like in the fields of atomic absorption spectroscopy, and theoretical physics.
MATTER AROUND US
Dalton was the first scientist who spoke about understanding the fundamental particles that make matter around us. Everything that we see is made up of matter and if one magnifies almost anything many times, one common constituent is found, the atom.
The atom is the basic unit of matter, similar to a cell when it comes to the fundamental living unit of our body. The atom makes up all sorts of matter, solid, liquid, and gas.
Other things that various theories and research tell us about the atom is that it has a very dense core called a nucleus in the middle, which contains some of the fundamental particles in it. The nucleus is made up of protons and neutrons, together termed as nucleons.
Apart from this very dense core that is actually very small in size, there are other particles, even smaller than protons and neutrons, that move in circular orbits around the nucleus. The arrangement of these is such that most of the space within an atom is known to be empty.
These fundamental particles also carry some charge on them. Like protons have a positive charge and electrons have an equal amount of negative charge. Neutrons are neutral and carry zero charges just like the name suggests.
One important thing to know about an atom is that it is a fundamentally neutral entity. Thus, to balance the positive charge with the negative, it has been seen that in an atom, the number of protons is equal to the number of electrons. This number is also called the atomic number and forms the basic criteria of classifying all the available elements in nature in the famous periodic table, one of the most useful theoretical tools in fundamental chemistry.
The atomic number plus the number of neutrons gives us the atomic mass number. It is clear that the more the atomic mass number, the more would be the size of the nucleus and the heavier and bigger in size of the nucleus will be.
THE FUNDAMENTAL PARTICLES
Electrons are one of the fundamental particles that physicists and chemists often talk about. It means that electrons cannot be divided further. On the other hand, quantum physics and modern research tells us that the proton and the neutron can still be divided further into even more fundamental particles like quarks and leptons.
The electrons are known to be moving in an elliptical orbit around the nucleus of an atom, depending on the number of orbits or their distance from the nucleus, a fixed number of electrons can be found moving in a particular orbit.
Sometimes, an electron may also jump to a higher orbit after absorbing energy or jump to a lower orbit and release the difference in their energy. This gives out energy in the form of photons and forms a basis of various other studies like the photoelectric effect, atomic absorption spectroscopy, etc.
Quantum physics has even gone further to say that electrons in the atomic orbit can very well be also considered as waves, just like the wave nature of the particles of light, photons. According to quantum physics, electrons must be present in a stationary waveform in a particular atomic orbit and their particle nature is only known after one makes a certain observation on the same.
Until observed, the electron may be present everywhere around the atom in the form of a wave, something that our logical mind dismisses, but science proves that this is in fact true, and also in complete accordance with the very famous Schrodinger’s principle of multiple realities existing at the same time. Schrodinger’s famous cat experiment also sheds light on the same concept.