Tel

So how many is a billion?

29 posts in this topic

DEALER

You're missing it. The classical electron radius is in there at 10E-14 m. However this is just one measure of the electron's 'size'. You are also right in that, as with any particle sufficiently small that quantum effects are dominant, an electron will have a probability distribution in space which basically describes the likelihood of observing it at any particular point. So if it's bound to a proton in a hydrogen atom, for example, there's a small region around the proton within which the chances of finding it are quite large. A 'long way' from the proton the chances are very small. This is where your 'cloud of uncertainty' image is useful. In yet another sense though an electron appears to be structureless and can be regarded as point-like, i.e. infinitesimally small. The 'size' you pick should really depend on what you want to do with the information once you've got it.

VB

That 'Scale of the Universe' thing is excellent though. It hadn't occurred to me that the moon is only about the same size as the USA. I drove across the USA once. OK, it was down at the bottom where it's a bit narrower. But if you only stop for fast food and gas you can do San Diego to Houston in under 24 hours.

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I have long delighted in the sayings of my major lecturer in physics.

Infinity? It's fucking huge man. I mean, REALLY fucking huge.

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This quote sums up humanity quite well for me or it maybe that I've been around the Wam far to long and have become cynical about there being any intelligence on Earth at all.

"Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea."

Dean..

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