Thread: Ask a Scientist
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Old 28.06.2013, 17:21
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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Not sure this helps but anyway;
On the atomic scale, physicists have found that quantum mechanics describes things very well on that scale. And when we use quantum mechanics to describe particles, electrons, protons, neutrons, etc, they are no longer thought of as point like particles whizzing around.

Particle locations in quantum mechanics are not at an exact position, they are described by a probability density function. These probability density function's shapes are often known as "electron clouds". They show where it's likely to find the electron.

If you see a diagram of these "electron clouds" then the darker regions are places of higher probability of finding the electron and the lighter (eventually fading to approximately white) regions are lower probability places of of finding the electron. Usually such diagrams are charted relatively small (less than an A4 page) but you could theoretically make them so large as the universe to show all the (white) lowest probability places.
Thank you for taking the time to reply.
Do we know for a fact that particles are not in an exact location? I really am interested in the studies that lead to this conclusion and maybe someone can direct me? I follow how the quantum rules of probability allow us to predict their behaviour, but what I get stuck on is how we can conclude from that that they ARE probability. Knowing their probability doesn't mean that is all they are. For a random example that I hope can help me express what I am getting at, if I were travelling down a water slide which splits at multiple points, you might be able to predict with accuracy what are the chances I will land in the pool in the left and what are the chances the guy behind me will land in the pool on the right, but that fact doesn't prove that we weren't really in a specific location beforehand.