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The Stability of Matter

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Author:Richard Lipkin - Science News Online
Description: Why matter neither collapses nor explodes: putting aside the seeming absurdity of an inquiry into why atoms don't collapse, the question raises serious mathematical issues in quantum mechanics and field theory. "Classical physics can't account for the fact that matter is stable and occupies space," says Mary Beth Ruskai, a mathematical physicist at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. There's nothing in the classical laws of dynamics and electromagnetism to prevent orbiting electrons from spiraling inward to a nuclear doom. "People interested in this question have had to rely on some very gnarly mathematics to get answers."...

Levels: High School (9-12), College
Languages: English
Resource Types: Articles
Math Topics: Mechanics of Particle Systems, Quantum Theory

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