In the last installment of Science Friday we disputed just how all matter is made of more than 99% empty room. We finished the blog article by posing this question: If all issue is made up of greatly of empty space, why can’t my hand pass with the weld I just made?

Every time I think around this topic, I think of the opening to the Cohen Brothers movie, The Men Who Stare at Goats. If you haven’t checked out the movie, right here is the opening scene:

As funny as it is to watch a grown guy run complete rate right into a wall and also end up on his backside, this clip does highlight an excellent scientific concept. If that wall is mostly empty space, why can’t he run with it? Why does it feel solid? Why did it leave him via a wicked headache, a black eye, and no dignity?

The answer is the electrostatic force.

You are watching: Electrostatic forces hold which of the following together

The electrostatic force holds electrons and also protons together in atoms and enables the atoms of different elements to bond together to create new substances. It is also responsible for the solidity of solid objects. The electrostatic force is summed up in the regulation of charges: oppowebsite charges entice and like charges repel, simply choose the opposite ends of a magnet.

Here’s exactly how it works:

The inconceivably tiny atoms that combine to make all of the living and also non-living things around us are made of the same 3 particles: proloads, neutrons and also electrons. Prolots have a positive charge and electrons have an adverse charge. Neutrons, as their name argues, have no charge. The prolots and also neutrons are tightly packed in a central nucleus. Electrons, which are nearly 2,000 times smaller than prolots and neutrons, are uncovered whizzing around exterior the nucleus in areas that researchers contact shells or orbitals. If the nucleus were the dimension of a golf sphere then the nearest electron would be around a mile ameans. The space in between is greatly empty space!


The negatively charged electrons are held in orlittle about the nucleus because they are attracted to the positively charged proloads. Electrons play an electric balancing act; trying to acquire as close as they can to the nucleus while maintaining as much ameans from each other as feasible. The liked-charged proloads in the nucleus don’t repel each various other bereason prolots themselves are made of also smaller pshort articles called quarks. These quarks create a strong nuclear force that holds the nucleus together.


The actions of magnets offers us a feeling of the attrenergetic and also repulsive electrostatic forces at play inside atoms. If you hold the north pole of one magnet near the southern pole of one more magnet, an invisible yet exceptionally genuine magnetic pressure will pull each of them together. If you flip the magnet around and try to push the southern poles of each magnet together, the exact same magnetic force will certainly reason them to repel each various other. Unlike poles attract and like poles repel the means that oppowebsite charges tempt and prefer charges repel.


This is a fun little bit experiment, however what does it have to do through walking with a wall? After all, exactly how many of us wouldn’t love to have the ability to walk with any type of wall or door? Well, atoms may be made of largely empty space, however their external edges—the part of the atom that you come in call with when you touch a wall surface, a door, or any kind of various other solid object—is a arsenal of electrons. Of course, civilization are likewise made of atoms, so as soon as the guy in the movie tries to run via the wall, the electrons on the external edges of his atoms are repelled by the electrons on the exterior edges of the atoms that comprise the wall. It doesn’t really issue that atoms are mostly empty space between the nucleus and also the electrons bereason as soon as it involves day-to-day objects we’re really only handling electrons!


If you head has actually not exploded yet, it will…

This is why you never before really touch anypoint. Take two fingers and also push them together. It feels as though they are poignant, right? Each finger feels solid. You have the right to feel the fingers pushing against each various other. However before, if you were to look at your fingers at the atomic level you would certainly watch that they never come into call through one another! Your fingers are actually feeling the electrons in the atoms of one finger pushing versus the electrons in the atoms of the other finger. This is similar to the repulsive actions of a magnet when you try to carry choose poles together. You feel the resistance of the magnetic pressure however the magnets never before actually touch. This is the illusion of solidity!

When you pick up a welding torch, it feels solid, it has actually mass and weight. However, you are not in physical call through the torch. Instead, the electrons in the atoms of the torch are repelled—at an infinitesimally close distance—by the electrons in the atoms of your hand.

Thus the electromagnetic pressure explains why you don’t loss via the floor even though the floor is comprised of even more than 99% empty room. This is also the factor why we can’t run through walls… which sort of sucks because I’d choose to have the ability to streatment my wife in the kitchen by just popping in via the wall.

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If you feel prefer you missed something here is a quick little video I found that sums this all up:

David Hernandez


Happy Birthday Cell Phones!

This week the cell phone turned 40 years old. The DynaTac 8000X, the first commercially obtainable cell phone price a very reasonable $4,000. Considering that we deserve to put the identical of a supercomputer system in our pockets for a mere $200 these days, I would say the modern technology has come rather a lengthy means.