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Atoms are smaller than __ (insert joke appropriate to your age here)

March 11, 2010

Here is a diagram of an atom.

NO IT’S WRONG, I HATE IT AND I’M GOING TO SHOW YOU WHY.

Actually, this diagram is wrong for more reasons than just scale (electrons are in clouds not neat orbits, thanks to quantum physics, the subatomic particles would actually occupy the same position etc.. etc.) but since i’m an anal jerk i’ve decided to rage on about how the scale of this diagram is a bit missleading. Don’t worry, this post isn’t going to be as long as the previous one, here’s a picture of a basketball.

Imagine holding this ball in your hands. Now imagine that It’s actually the nucleus of a hydrogen atom (i.e. a single proton). You are walking outside whatever building you are in, (don’t actually do this, I don’t want you to get fired) and then you stop walking and look into the distance (did I mention that you’re an eagle? You’re an eagle). Using your incredible sight you spy something tiny, around 18 km distant and about the size of the dot on this i. That tiny dot is an electron.

There you go.

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