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Are Atoms Immortal?  
User currently offlineLehpron From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 7028 posts, RR: 21
Posted (13 years 1 week 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 3154 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.
13 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineMatt D From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 9502 posts, RR: 47
Reply 1, posted (13 years 1 week 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 3137 times:

This is the type of question that would only be asked if you were laying around a campfire at 1 AM getting stoned. Big grin

Seriously though, interesting question.

All I can really say is that matter is neither created nor destroyed.

I think I remember that from a physics class.

So I would think that atoms are immortal.


But then again, you never know.


User currently offlineTransactoid From Canada, joined Mar 2001, 788 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (13 years 1 week 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 3134 times:

Atoms can be destroyed - in nuclear fussion, atoms are split apart. Atoms, are in fact, made up of quarks.


User currently offlineIkarus From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 3524 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (13 years 1 week 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 3133 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.

Regards

Ikarus


User currently offlineHepkat From Austria, joined Aug 2000, 2341 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (13 years 1 week 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 3125 times:

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.

The energy particles that combine to make atoms can easily recombine to make decaying material, which gets eaten (decomposed), which is then used to form other materials (other cells).


User currently offlineCPDC10-30 From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2000, 4791 posts, RR: 23
Reply 5, posted (13 years 1 week 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 3110 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.

User currently offlineAloha 737-200 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (13 years 1 week 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 3096 times:

Electricity is immortal!!!!  Laugh out loud

User currently offlineWe're Nuts From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 5722 posts, RR: 19
Reply 7, posted (13 years 1 week 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 3089 times:

Adams are immortal.  Laugh out loud Laugh out loud


An Adam



Dear moderators: No.
User currently offlineKlaus From Germany, joined Jul 2001, 21484 posts, RR: 53
Reply 8, posted (13 years 1 week 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 3085 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...  Wink/being sarcastic


< 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"... Big grin

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 >


User currently offlineFSPilot747 From United States of America, joined Oct 1999, 3599 posts, RR: 12
Reply 9, posted (13 years 1 week 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 3074 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.

take care,
FSPilot747


User currently offlineLehpron From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 7028 posts, RR: 21
Reply 10, posted (13 years 1 week 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 3066 times:

Let's spin this differently, shall we...

What I meant originally about the age of atoms was more of an evolutionary inquiry rather than physical or chemical one.



The meaning of life is curiosity; we were put on this planet to explore opportunities.
User currently offlineSebolino From France, joined May 2001, 3681 posts, RR: 4
Reply 11, posted (13 years 1 week 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 3064 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.





User currently offlineSebolino From France, joined May 2001, 3681 posts, RR: 4
Reply 12, posted (13 years 1 week 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 3064 times:

What you called the "Law of conservation" which states that nothing is created, nothing is lost is globally true, but false for the matter (that was a classical physics statement).

In fact, matter can degrades into energy. But the global energy is kept (E = mc2).


User currently offlineAirways1 From United Kingdom, joined Jul 1999, 560 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (13 years 1 week 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 3059 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.


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