Are the electrons spinning around the nucleus of an atom travelling faster than the speed of sound?
Asked by: Madhur Upman
The electrons do not really 'spin' around the nucleus
in atoms. They are found in what is called 'orbitals',
which are three-dimensional probability distributions,
which correspond to the quantum mechanical state they
are in. The way things work in such microscopic scales
is very much different from our everyday experience,
and has a 'logic' of its own, and is (in my opinion)
However, not to give the feeling the question is being
fended off without an answer, let me mention this: In
the Bohr model of the Hydrogen atom (which gives some
right answers, but is known to be essentially incorrect)
electrons _do_ spin around the nucleus. In the simplest
case of a hydrogen atom with a single electron spinning
around a single proton, the electron moves at about 1/137
of the speed of light, which is MUCH faster than sound.
Sound travels at about 1100 feet per second, while light
travels at 186,000 miles per second.. You do the math.
As a side note, with the Bohr model, the 'inner'
electrons in atoms with greater atomic numbers would
be moving faster...
Answered by: Yasar Safkan, Ph.D. M.I.T., Software Engineer, Istanbul, Turkey
'I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.'