What is an Atom?

What is an Atom?

Atoms are the smallest unit of matter and building blocks of everything in the universe, be it solid, liquid or gas right from the grain of sand to strand of hair to your body to the planets, stars and the moon to the infinity and beyond.

But where it all began? As the story goes, one fine day in the ancient India Maharshi Kanada and Indian scientist, sage and philosopher was walking with food in his hand. As he ate the food, after chewing for a while it occurred to him that he couldn’t not divide the food into further parts and thus the idea of a matter of a matter which cannot be divided further came into existence. He called that indivisible matter “Anu” a Sanskrit word for atoms.

Even though Sage Kanada was believed to be the first one come up with this idea but the credit for making this concept popular and proposing the first atomic theory goes to a Greek philosopher Democritus who explained that everything around us is made up of tiny particles surrounded space. He even said that they vary in size and shape depending on the substances they compose. He named this particles Atomos a Greek word for indivisible. And as the time progressed this theory went into many changes and challenges and finally we know atoms for what it is and what are they made of and what’s that?

When you think of an atom you probably visualize something like this. On the outer side you got negatively charged electrons. In the centre, you have the nucleus made up of neutrons have no charge and protons which have a positive charge. This model is close enough and has been taught in your textbooks since ages but unfortunately, modern science doesn’t agree with it anymore and its terms it as inaccurate…

Firstly the nucleus in the middle is way more smaller than this so small you won’t be able to see it. Some goes with the electrons. Another thing that is incorrect is that it’s believed electrons orbit around the nucleus just like planets orbit around the stars. But it turns out that electrons just like the surprise math test is really unpredictable. With electrons, we can’t really know where it is and where it will be going. The only thing we know is that it will be found somewhere in the Electron cloud. So now you know even though this is the most famous representation of an atom it is unfortunately misleading. The real picture, for now, is this.

Did you know, that the atoms are mostly empty space? An Atom is about 99.9999999…% empty. If you remove the empty space from the atoms of all people on the planet the entire human population could fit in the volume a sugar cube.

Also the atoms are really small. They are so small that you cannot see them even with the most powerful microscope.

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