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 similarly charged 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 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 satisfactory explanation is offered for 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 it is particle exchanged photon energies and not charges that play a part in determining particle locations and their behaviours within atoms, have a look at my diagram.
Surprisingly, science teaching does not seem to emphasise what I said in my opening blog on energy – “particles take up less than 0.0001% of the space occupied by a structure. ” Science seems reluctant to explain that we cannot see the particles of mass that constitute matter and that what we see are interpretations of the photon energies they emit. Our particles never make contact with an objects particles. Our sense of contact is derived from the interacting photon energies that particle engaging structures bring to bear on one another.
Science accepts that photons pass between different particle structures but it seems reluctant to accept, even though it is aware of all that space in a structure, 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 being annihilated to high photon energy by a positron. 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 links to the 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 can 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. All particle energies are themselves composed of much space, explaining how all of our universe’s energy could be contained in a space volume like that of a golf ball, as suggestet pre big bang
Electron, Proton and Neutron Roles
The much lighter, 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. The orbital spaces they operate in are where they can best gather suitable photon energies and link to a proton. Electrons may be slave energies but they are proactive in avoiding other electrons and the more remote outer electrons may also serve proton energies in other atoms, effectively bonding them together.
Protons have an intermediary role. Their energy desires draw in electron related photon energies but they don’t want and limit excesses. Such photon interactions are reflected back into the motions of electrons which is why they vibrate frequencies related to energy levels. protons. 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 the best locations for them.
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 electron energies when energy desires are being easily satisfied.
Just as protons and electrons interact via energies so do neutrons and protons. These interacting energies we call gluons. I suspect, but have no proof, that gluons are just high volume photon exchanges of low level infra red energies. Earth’s particles seem to particularly like such energies. The high volumes would account for the very strong but short range nuclear force that holding nuclear particles together but at a distance, as with protons and electrons.