You’re probably aware that everything is made up of tiny particles known as Atoms, and that each Atom is made up of even smaller particles known as protons, neutrons, and electrons.
Atoms, you’ve probably learned, are tiny. However, I’m sure you’ve never considered how tiny Atoms are. The short answer is that they are extremely thin.
So, how tiny are atoms, exactly? To grasp this, consider the following: In a grapefruit, how many atoms are there?
Let’s pretend that a grapefruit is made entirely of nitrogen atoms, which isn’t the case; however, a grapefruit does contain nitrogen atoms.
Let’s make each of the Atoms the size of a blueberry to help you imagine this. How high does the grapefruit have to be after that?
It’d have to be the same size as— well, the Earth itself. That’s crazy! Do you mean I’d have the same number of nitrogen atoms as a grapefruit if I filled the Earth with blueberries? That’s right!
So, what is the size of the atom? Ok, it’s a tad on the tiny side! What’s more, you know what? It gets even crazier. Let’s take a closer look at each Atom— and hence the Blueberry. — What do you think you’re seeing?
The nucleus, which includes protons and neutrons, is located in the middle of the atom, while electrons are found on the outside. So, what is the size of the Nucleus?
How large would the nucleus be if atoms were the size of blueberries on Earth? You might recall old Atom pictures from science class, where there was a tiny dot on the page with an arrow pointing to the nucleus.
Those frames, on the other hand, aren’t designed to scale, so they’re a little off. So, what is the size of the Nucleus? So, if you cracked open the Blueberry in search of the Nucleus… What’s more, guess what?
It would be undetectable. It’s impossible to see! Okay, that’s it. Let’s make the Atom, also known as the Blueberry, as big as a home. As an example, consider a ball the size of a two-story building.
Let’s search for the nucleus in the atom’s centre. What’s more, do you know what? It will only be apparent to the naked eye. But we’ll blow up the Blueberry to the size of a football stadium to get our heads around how large the Nucleus is.
So imagine a ball the size of a Football Stadium, and the Nucleus would be right in the middle of it, and you’d be able to see it!
It’d be the size of a small marble, too. There’s something, if I haven’t already blown your mind. Let’s take a closer look at the Atom. Protons, neutrons, and electrons make up the nucleus.
The protons and neutrons reside inside the nucleus and account for almost all of the mass of the atom. The electrons are on the very edge of things.
So, if an Atom is a football-sized ball with the nucleus in the middle and electrons on the periphery, what is the space between the nucleus and the electrons?
Surprisingly, empty space is the solution. That’s right. (Wind noise) It’s all gone! There are large regions of free space between the nucleus and the electrons. Technically, there are some electromagnetic fields, but it is null in terms of matter.
Remember that this vast expanse of empty space is contained within the Blueberry, which is contained within the Earth, which is made up entirely of the Atoms in the grapefruit. Okay, one more thing, if I can get any weirder.
Since the Nucleus contains nearly all of an Atom’s mass — there is some mass in the electrons, but the Nucleus contains the majority of it — how dense is the Nucleus?
The response, of course, is absurd. A standard Nucleus has a density of four times 10 to the 17th kilogrammes per metre cubed. But it’s difficult to picture that.
I’ll convert it to English units.
2.5 times the tenth to the sixteenth pound per cubic foot Okay, that’s a little more difficult to find out. Here’s what I’d like you to do.
Make a one-foot-by-one-foot-by-one-foot-by-one-foot-by-one-foot-by-one-foot- Let’s go get all the nuclei from a standard car now.
Cars now weigh an average of two tonnes. How many car nuclei will you have to stuff into the package to get the density of the Nucleus in your one-foot-box?
Is it a single vehicle? Is it two? How about a hundred? Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, no The response is far more substantial. It has a population of 6.2 billion people. That’s about as many people as there are on the planet.
So, if everybody on the planet had a car — which they don’t — and we packed all of those cars into your box…
That’s roughly the density of a nucleus.
So, if you packed every car in the world into your one-foot stack, you’d have the density of a single Nucleus. Let’s go over it again.
The atom is very, extremely thin. Consider the atoms in a grapefruit as blueberries on the planet. The nucleus is incredibly small. Take a look inside the Blueberry and magnify it to the size of a Football Stadium; the Nucleus is now a marble in the middle.
Large swaths of empty space make up the atom. That’s strange. The density of the nucleus is insanely high. Consider fitting all of those automobiles into your one-foot box.