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Structure of an Atom

Refer to our page The Atom for more detailed anaylsis of the atomic structure, its forces and its energies.

References are indicated thus: ⁽¹⁾ refers to note 1 at the bottom of this page.

The Atom

The structure of an atom before elementary particles were discovered

Fig 1. The Early Atom

Until recently we understood the structure of an atom as shown in Fig 1. It comprised a number of relatively massive solid balls in its centre (the nucleus), about half of which have a positive charge (protons) and the other half have no charge (neutrons). In addition to which, there are approximately half as many tiny packets of energy or mass that orbit the nucleus, each of which has a negative charge (electrons). Bashing these atoms together causes particles and/or radiation (such as alpha, beta, gamma, etc.) to fly off.

However, this model is becoming a little unclear. For example, it now appears that neither protons nor neutrons are solid balls and they may not even possess mass. In fact they both comprise a number of smaller (or elementary) particles, and electrons are themselves elementary particles as are most of the bits that fly off during impact.

Elementary Particles

It is now understood that everything is made from elementary particles (Fig 2), and that these elementary particles have a certain amount of energy and/or mass depending upon how fast they are travelling.

The structure of an atom after elementary particles were discovered

Fig 2. The Atom Today

This relationship is described in the equation; e=m.c²
where m is measured in, say kg, e is measured in eV and c is measured in m/s

An object with a mass of 1kg at rest (zero velocity) would have zero energy⁽¹⁾ but when travelling at the speed of light, it would have a theoretical mass of zero and an energy of 5.60958915E+035eV⁽²⁾. The mass and energy components of a body can be established by factoring actual speed with light speed in the above equation.

The theory describing the behaviour and relationship between the various elementary particles is currently called super-string theory. This is based upon the assumption that all elementary particles are small strings of energy and/or mass according to their velocity.

For example: The mass component of electrons is small because they are travelling at very high speed. Protons and neutrons appear much more massive because: a) there are at least three elementary particles (quarks, bosons, etc.) in each, and; b) they are moving very slowly. The elementary particles in each are essentially the same but with different states of energy and therefore travelling at different speeds.

The elementary particles we know about today are listed below:

Elementary Particle Family Group Desription
Up Quark Fermion Matter
Down Quark Fermion Matter
Charm Quark Fermion Matter (An up-type quark)
Strange Quark Fermion Matter (A down-type quark)
Top Quark Fermion Matter (An up-type quark)
Bottom Quark Fermion Matter (A down-type quark)
Electron Lepton Fermion Orbits atoms
Electron Neutrino Lepton Fermion Electron with no charge
Muon Lepton Fermion Muon is a heavy electron
Muon Neutrino Lepton Fermion Muon with no charge
Tauon Lepton Fermion Tauon is an even heavier electron
Tauon Neutrino Lepton Fermion Tauon with no charge
Higgs Boson Gives mass to elementary particles
Graviton Boson Gives gravity to elementary particles
Photon Gauge Boson Boson Emits light
Gluon Gauge Boson Boson Binds quarks together
W Gauge Boson Boson Weak force carrier
Z Gauge Boson Boson Weak force carrier

In addition to the elementary particles listed in the above table, there are also antiparticles. These are exactly the same as the elementary particle but they have the opposite electrical charge or magnetic moment. Interaction between a particle and an antiparticle results in a significant discharge of energy.

There is no clear answer as to why such things as charm quarks and muon neutrinos exist, it is simply understood that they do as the empirical evidence appears to indicate as such.

Compound Particles

Compound particles are groups of more than one elementary particle bound together by force or opposite electrical charge.

Name Constituents Family Group
Proton 2 x up quarks & 1 down quark Baryon (Fermion) Hadron
Neutron 1 x up quark & 2 down quarks Baryon (Fermion) Hadron
Meson 1 quark + 1 anti-quark Pion, Eta, Kaon, K, D & B types Hadron
Alpha 2 neutrons plus 2 protons
Beta neutron >> proton+electron

Electromagnetic Radiation

Electromagnetic radiation is given off when elementary particles collide. The complete spectrum of electromagnetic radiation has been separated into the following bands:

Name Description
Gamma Rays Very short-wave radiation given off by unstable atoms (e.g. uranium-235) when their protons turn to neutrons as they decay
X-Ray Short-wave radiation given off by unstable atoms (e.g. indium) when their protons turn to neutrons as they decay. Elements with a fairly short half-life
Visible Light All the radiation between ultra-violet light to infra-red light
Microwave Long-wave radiation is produced by electronic equipment and used for heating things up
Radio-wave Very long-wave radiation used for transmitting radio signals


In this sub-section all elementary particles will be referred to as 'strings'.

It appears that, whilst a great deal of information is currently being gathered about different strings (or their energy states), perhaps what's needed now is an empirical summary of what we know. And in-keeping with the ethos that the right answer is nearly always the simplest, it is just possible that there is rather a lot of over-complex theorising going on at the moment.

As amateurs in this field we fully accept that our assumptions may be way off course but we feel they are worth consideration.

Our Assumptions

1) There is no such thing as mass, gravity, light, etc. these are simply interpretations or manifestations of different energy states carried by a string

2) There is just one type of string (or carrier)

3) This string can carry any combination of different energy states, e.g.:
electrical charge (±eᴱ), magnetic moment (eᴹ), force (eᴺ), gravity (eᴳ), radiation (eᴿ), mass (eᵐ), etc.

4) Set all energies except 'eᴳ' to zero and you have a 'graviton', set all the energies except 'eᴱ' to zero and you have a 'positron' or an 'electron', set all the energies except 'eᴺ' to zero and you have a 'boson', etc. with many variations between (see 6) below)

5) e=mc² therefore may need a slight tweak: 'e = ±a.eᴱ + b.eᴳ + c.eᴺ + d.eᴹ + e.eᴿ + f.eᵐ' where factors a + b + c + d + e + f = 1 and the value of each factor and/or sum of factors is unique

6) Whilst f can be infinitely small (as in a neutrino or a photon), it can never be zero⁽¹⁾

7) All of the factors: a, b, c, d, and e can be zero

8) If a, b, c, d and e are all set to zero the string is at rest (f = 1), mass is maximum and emits no energy. This is what we know as dark matter, you can't see it and it cannot be detected by its movement (because it isn't moving)

9) All non-dark matter in the universe comprises strings with a combination of two or more energy state(s), one of which is mass

10) It is possible to generate a multi-dimensional Mendeleev type periodic table of string carrier conditions

11) Heisenberg's uncertainty principle will remain true until we fully understand the mathematical processes necessary to describe the behaviour of elementary particles⁽³⁾

12) Immediately before the big-bang, the universe comprised nothing but dark matter and a singularity

13) The big-bang and the 'Great Attractor' are the same singularity, perhaps separated by the 4th dimension (e.g. time)

14) Black holes are at the centre of every spiral galaxy but always too small to achieve critical mass⁽⁴⁾

15) The sum of all the non-dark matter in the universe represents the critical mass of a black-hole (e.g. the 'Great Attractor')

16) When the Great Attractor has swallowed all the matter in the universe, it will reach critical mass and explode again (the next big-bang). This is a repetitive process

String Energy Levels

Given what we know about the graviton, gluon, proton, neutron and the up & down quarks it should be possible to extrapolate values for: eᴳ, eᴺ and eᴱ. This information can then be used to continue the procedure for other strings we know to exist (e.g. magnetic moment, mass, radiation, etc.).

A Mendeleev-type Periodic Table of known energy states could be generated making it possible to predict missing energy states, just as Mendeleev did for the atomic periodic table (CalQlata's Elements database).

Given time, CalQlata hopes to try and extrapolate as many as we can to see if our assumptions are correct (or even close)....

If you have already tried the above and discovered it doesn't work then please let us know!


  1. According to the equation e=mc², none of these factors can be zero or all other factors in the equation will also be zero resulting in a non-existent particle
  2. eV/c² for units of equivalent mass - conversion by CalQlata's UniQon calculator
  3. Just like chaos theory and religion, the uncertainty principle could simply be a stop-gap measure used to explain things we do not yet understand
  4. Many people believe a supernova is created by a large black-hole achieving critical mass
    And according to Hubble's observations galaxies are moving away from each other
    But in an infinite universe, it is difficult to rule out a galactic collision and supernovas are rare
    If the great attractor is bringing all the galaxies back together, then a galactic collision is possible
    The strength vs force of two small black-holes in collision may be sufficient to break them apart
    This may not be the case for the ultimate collision: galaxy into the Great Attractor

Further Reading

You will find further reading on this subject in reference publications(31)

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