At school we learn about protons and electrons and how they have the same but opposite charge. Charge is said to be a built in property of electrons and protons and explaining why negatively charged electrons want away from negative electrons, why positive protons want away from positive protons and why negative electrons and positive protons attract one another. We learn little at this stage about the role of neutrons other than that they do not have a charge property.
We do learn that atoms have nuclei where protons and neutrons reside and that electrons are distributed in shell like energy formations around and away from the nucleus. We may learn that photon energies, sometimes referred to as electro-magnetic energies, coming from external sources can displace and relocate electrons in an atomic structure but no explanation is offered as to why electrons are not drawn right into the proton containing nuclei or how it is that protons, that don’t want to be near each other elsewhere, can remain relatively close to one another in a nucleus.
So that you might better appreciate my argument that exchanged photon energies and not charges play a part in determining particle locations and their behaviours within atoms, have a look at my diagram.
Surprisingly a working picture of matter and all things physical, rarely gets a mention, but I repeat here what I said in my opening blog on energy – “particles take up less than 0.000001% of the space occupied by a structure. “
Science accepts that photons pass between different particle structures but seems reluctant to accept that particles within an atomic structure do likewise. When it does refer to photon energies within structures it is usually as virtual photons
Do not think of an atom or nucleus as having a surround. Atoms are just energy efficient collections of particle energies that support one another via their energy interactions. The outer electrons of atoms may link strongly via energy interactions to other atom particles. Such bonding is the very nature of larger structures and we will read more about bonds in my blog on chemical energy.
We might also learn in school about beta and beta positive radioactive decays. In beta decays neutrons become protons and electrons. In beta positive decays a proton becomes a neutron and the action leads to an electron energy becoming a high photon energy. The emphasis is always on the process, never explaining why it happens.
I will tell you that such things happen when neutron particles are not satisfied with their energy environment. If it is not satisfying their needs one of their number becomes a proton and electron, If it is excessively supplying their needs, the opposite may happen. Neutrons are quite clearly not as neutral as the charge picture paints.
The picture, I painted above, of considerable space in atom structures makes possible significantly different structures elsewhere in space. On earth, gold is denser than lead. at 19.3 grams per cubic centimetre but compare that to a neutron star density estimated at about 100 million tons per cubic centimetre. Much closer neutron particles don’t need the energy assistance of protons and electrons. It might be that neutron particle energies are themselves composed of much space, explaining how all of our universe’s energy could be contained in a space volume of a golf ball.
Electron, Proton and Neutron Roles
The much lighter and thereby more mobile electrons provide the means by which nuclear particles can energy link to the environment. They are the “slave” particles of the atomic world. They take up space around a nucleus so that they can effectively collect suitable photon energies. To be effective in their energy gathering and delivering role they also interact with and maintain a distance from other electrons . Electrons may be slave energies but they are living proactive slave energies and always acting to perform their role in the most efficient manner. The energy desires that drive them have them moving toward the photon flows of the environment, gaining in energy and then retreating toward and interacting with protons.
Protons have an intermediary role. Their energy desires draw in suitable electron photon energies and causes some movement of electrons toward protons. However proton energies are quickly satisfied and electrons are repulsed by energy interactions between them. Protons are also releasing suitable energies to neutrons and interacting with them. Their energy links to neutrons are what enable them to be relatively close to other protons that are performing a similar roles and doing so efficiently by establishing best locations.
If there is one controlling particle in a nucleus it is the neutron. It seems to want the best possible energy stability in whatever energy environment it finds itself in and as we said earlier it can create out of itself proton and electron energies to better meet the energy needs of its nuclear colleagues or recreate itself from proton and neutron energies when energy desires are being easily satisfied.
Just as protons and electrons interact via photon energies so do neutrons and protons. I suspect but have no proof that the latter photon energy exchanges comprise of high volumes of low level infra red energies. We will later learn in a blog how low level energies are most attracted to particles. The high volumes would account for the very strong but short range nuclear force that holds nuclear particles together.