Lehpron From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 7028 posts, RR: 21 Posted (12 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 3016 times:
I have always wondered this. Atoms are in everything. We are made of them, we eat them, we spit then out our rears. They aren't like us, we age. And if age is simply the recombination of different atoms in a sequence to form or not form cells, there you go.
But, how old are they?
The meaning of life is curiosity; we were put on this planet to explore opportunities.
Ikarus From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 3524 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (12 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 2995 times:
No. Atoms do not live. Only living things can be immortal. You might say that matter in general is everlasting (although atoms can be split and the radioactive ones decay etc. etc.) because it does not increase, but as it is not a living thing, it is not immortal.
On the other hand, some one-celled organisms (Pantoffeltierchen) have the potential to live forever (unless they are eaten) - or as long as our planet is inhabitable. All they do is take in food and multiply. They do not age.
CPDC10-30 From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2000, 4780 posts, RR: 24
Reply 5, posted (12 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 2972 times:
In nuclear fission, heavy atoms are split into smaller elements. In fusion, two light elements are combined to create one heavy one (ie hydrogen to helium in the stellar core). So atoms can be destroyed and created. But the matter that the atoms are composed of (electrons, protons and neutrons) have not ever been split or combined...at least to my knowledge.
Klaus From Germany, joined Jul 2001, 21407 posts, RR: 54
Reply 8, posted (12 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 2947 times:
Hepkat: Well, according to Newton, energy can neither by created nor destroyed. It can, however, be recombined to form other materials, and that's exactly what happens when our body dies.
Yes. But Einstein opened yet another path: Matter can be converted to energy (nuclear energy!) or energy to matter (presumably during the "big bang"). The famous e = mc^2 goes both ways (m = e/c^2).
CPDC10-30: In nuclear fission, heavy atoms are split into smaller elements. In fusion, two light elements are combined to create one heavy one (ie hydrogen to helium in the stellar core). So atoms can be destroyed and created. But the matter that the atoms are composed of (electrons, protons and neutrons) have not ever been split or combined...at least to my knowledge.
That´s the only purpose of most super colliders used by scientists: To break down those parts. And they get broken, alright. It just gets harder to "see" the fragments as they get smaller. That´s why the physicists constantly request even bigger toys...
< lecture >
The current scientific view is that most atoms we´re made of have been "bred" in huge stars billions of years past, before they exploded as super-novae and spilled their material into space, where it later "congealed" into our solar system (sun, planets, "leftover" debris and gases). So we basically consist of "star ashes"...
Some of those elements are radioactive, which means they disintegrate over time (into smaller atoms plus radiation); Even the normally "stable" elements have radioactive variants (isotopes). C-14 is one example of that (a variant of "regular" and stable C-12 carbon). But the others seem to be quite durable. At least from a human point of view, they appear to be as good as "immortal". Individual chemical substances or biological systems are just different configurations of the same atoms.
< /lecture >
FSPilot747 From United States of America, joined Oct 1999, 3599 posts, RR: 12
Reply 9, posted (12 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 2936 times:
Well the law of conservation i think it is states that matter is neither created nor destroyed (as stated numeroulsy on this thread). But then again, atoms are not living. And quarks are only theoretical. They are not proven to be there. Anyways, I really hate chemistry, I'm taking it right now. Might need some tips from you chemists! I'm a History, Physiology and Biology person. Don't like math too much period.
Sebolino From France, joined May 2001, 3681 posts, RR: 4
Reply 11, posted (12 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 2926 times:
Atoms and other particles can be generated by energy or destroyed into energy or other particles.
Speaking of the age of an atom is a bit strange, but interesting.
I guess most of them have the age of the universe. What was before ? Good question.
Airways1 From United Kingdom, joined Jul 1999, 560 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (12 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 2921 times:
First we have to define what we mean by an atom. In general, an atom is a positively charged nucleus accompanied by an equally negatively charged entourage of electrons. Most 'atoms' around us are not actually in this form, but rather have a deficit or excess of electrons. These are known as ions, and can result from many effects, chemical bonding being the most obvious. For example, if we take a sodium atom and a chlorine atom and put them together, one of the electrons will defect from the sodium to the chlorine, thereby creating an overall positively charged sodium ion, and a negatively charged chlorine ion. These ions stick together to form an overall neutral charged sodium chloride molecule - common salt that you put on your chips!
So why have I said all this? To explain that atoms do not exist in a permanent state.
More permanent are the atomic nuclei, the relatively small bundle of protons and neutrons at the centre of the atom. These are immune to the effects of chemical reactions, but can be altered through nuclear reactions. This can either be natural in the case of radioactive decay, in which parts of the nucleus are ejected, or artificially in which the nucleus is made to absorb another neutron, possibly destabilising it and making it radioactive.
So atoms do not exist permanently in one form, though at least the nuclei may have existed for millions of years in their present state.
Some people have said that matter can be destroyed and created. This is true, but it never happens to complete atoms. This is because a particle can only be destroyed by its associated 'anti-particle'. Anti-particles are very rare, and for a whole atom to be destroyed, it means there has to be a whole 'anti-atom' composed of 'anti-particles'. While these can be produced artificially, they would almost never occur naturally due to the rarity of anti-particles, and therefore the destruction of entire atoms tends not to happen.