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Atomic physics

From Academic Kids

Atomic physics (or atom physics) is physics of the electron hull of atoms.

Lay people often associate the term atomic physics with nuclear power and nuclear bombs, obviously due to the synonymous use of atomic and nuclear in standard English. However, physcists distinguish between atomic physics (dealing with the effects of the electron hull and the nucleus's overall spin and electric charge) and nuclear physics (dealing with the forces within the atomic nuclei and reactions that alter, fuse or split them).

The beginning of atomic physics is marked by the discovery and scrutinious study of spectral lines. These are sharply defined lines in the spectrum of illuminated or (hot, hence ionized (see flame) and hence) light-emitting free atoms. ("Free" meaning that they are a gas or vapour and therefore not close to or interacting with other atoms.)

The study of these lines led to the Bohr atom model and on to our present understanding of the electron hull of the atom as described by the orbital atom model which is the basis of all understanding of chemistry. These conclusion are however not at all straight-forward but rather required more than a century of research, which has succeeded on putting chemistry on a sound fundament but also gave rise to many other applications.

See also

  • atomic clock: a typical application of atom physics
  • quantum optics: a field that has lot of overlap with atom physics
  • Energy level: a list of quantum mechanical effects important in atom physics

External link

es:Fsica atmica he:פיזיקה אטומית lb:Atomphysik nl:Atoomfysica pl:Fizyka atomowa sv:Atomfysik

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