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So, I have no classes regarding physics, or nano tech, but these are the paths I want to go in life. I have a few theories on how to make nano-tech even smaller, by "Shrinking" the atoms in the objects themselves. So I was wondering, if we could get it to work, what would be the effect it had mathematically? What would be the effects of shrinking the electron cloud to make the atom smaller on matter?
Question Date: 2019-03-01
Answer 1:

The size of an atom is a bit of a fuzzy concept given that the electrons exist not as discrete particles (except when measured, which is another story), but rather as mathematical probability distributions around the nucleus. Unfortunately for your plans to shrink nano-tech, the extent of the electron clouds are set by the quantum numbers (the size being related to the principal quantum number ) and several fundamental constants. These come from solutions to the Schrodinger wave equation. [Also see the derivations related to the Bohr model, here. ]

To shrink the atoms themselves would require changing how the universe works at a most basic level. That being said, the preceding link and these two - articles consider the effects of shrinking on organisms. It really all has to do with scaling relationships. For example, if you shrink the volume of atoms, but not their mass, then an object made of those atoms would become much more dense. As a result, the pressure (force divided by area over which that force acts) under the object would greatly increase such that whatever is supporting the object could be squashed (or at least a hole put in it, depending on how small the atoms/object is made).

Hopefully this does not discourage your pursuit of a future in physics and nanotechnology. If your school does not offer suitable physics classes, there are many free online courses that you can use to get started. [Begin with Classical Mechanics (also called Newtonian Physics, sometimes listed as Physics I), then progressing through Electricity and Magnetism (Physics II), and Modern/Quantum Physics. Courses listed as "AP Physics" might be more appropriate for high school students than university-level courses as the latter may assume knowledge of advanced math.]

Answer 2:

I'm not sure what you mean by shrinking atoms - unless you mean putting them under so much pressure that they are compressed into an electron degenerate state, like the interior of Jupiter. We don't presently have the technology to do that, and I am not sure that computers as we know them could work under those circumstances, anyway.

Answer 3:

I hope you will start taking lots of physics and math classes, so you can learn to understand nano-tech at a sub-atomic level. I think 'quantum computing' is an area for you to read about, in the popular literature, and nano-tech.

'Shrinking' atoms would only be science fiction. But maybe the electron cloud is compressed when atoms are under high pressure - I googled 'electron cloud compression' and found a good answer in Quora - it says only dying stars have enough pressure to compress electrons quora answer.

Answer 4:

To fully and accurately answer this question, let's look at what nanotech is in today's technological context. The word nanotechnology refers to the understanding and control of matter at the nanoscale, according to the National Nanotechnology Initiative. This means that we are taking matter and phenomena between 1 and 100 nanometers and using those for our benefit, not that we shrank matter to nanometer scales in order to use matter.

Scientists are already investigating pico- and femtotechnology (matter and phenomena we can use on the scale of 10-12 meters and 10-15 meters, compared to nano-, which is 10-9 meters), but not by shrinking atoms or electron clouds.

There are fundamental physical limits to atoms and electron clouds that prevent them from being easily shrunk. If we one day discover that we can easily shrink these things, it would change much of our theory of atoms, electrons, molecules, and matter in general. We would have to change a lot of our math because we would have new understandings of what is possible. In short, atoms cannot be shrunk, and neither can electron clouds. That is simply not how we would try to achieve pico- and femtotechnology. For more information, please refer to Professor LaBarbera's paper "The Biology of B-Movie Monsters" at B-Movie Monsters .

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