How Small Are Atoms?

Article written: 26 Apr , 2012
Updated: 23 Dec , 2015
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Here on Universe Today we often discuss things that exist on the atomic and sub-atmonic scale. Even though astronomy is concerned with very big things that happen over very, very large distances and time spans, the reality is that our Universe is driven by events occurring on the tiny atomic scale.

We all know atoms are really small (and the particles inside them are even smaller.) But… how small are they, really? To help answer that question, here’s a neat little animation from TEDEducation, presented by Jonathan Bergmann and Cognitive Media.

(That’s one big grapefruit!)

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9 Responses

  1. That’s a better video and much more relational than the other way of putting things if many videos.. like zooming out to ever greater distances.

  2. Lord Haw-Haw. says

    Scientist and author Don Lincoln of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory wrote in his book “The Quantum Frontier, The Large Hadron Collider”:

    “Atoms are really, really tiny. If you were to line up atoms ‘edge to edge,’ it would take 10 million to make up a single millimeter or 250 million to make up a single inch.”

    What the late Dr. Carl Sagan would call……”The realm of the very small!”

  3. The Goon Squad says

    This reminds me of a question I was asked when I was a graduate student teaching an organic chemistry lab. The student asked if he looked in a microscope [a common optical microscope] if he could see atoms? It was the first time is dawned upon me that students really have no idea how small atoms are.

  4. dw declare says

    empty space? really? or is there something even smaller lurking between the nucleus and electrons that we haven’t been able to detect yet? perhaps something akin to dark matter or dark energy.

  5. dw declare says

    empty space? really? or is there something even smaller lurking between the nucleus and electrons that we haven’t been able to detect yet? perhaps something akin to dark matter or dark energy.

    • Torbjörn Larsson says

      Not anything that will make an impact on daily life, there isn’t much room for something that has energy and entropy. The standard cosmology put a stop to such phenomena.

      But tiny effects, surely. Solid state physics have the most alluring quasiparticles, for one.

      And then you have all the toys of the rest of cosmology to play with (inflation, multiverses … or not, et cetera).

  6. Ken Lord says

    Did you see the gorilla? … awesome.

  7. Torbjörn Larsson says

    How small? Small enough.

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