Smaller Than an Atom

In school we are taught that atoms are made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons. We know that Protons and Neutrons reside in the Nucleus of the atom. That Protons have a Positive Charge, and Neutrons have no charge or in other words are neutral. We also learn that the negatively charged particles called electrons, surround the nucleus in the area called the electron cloud.

Although all these things are common knowledge,  What evidence do we have to even support the idea of Atoms? In April of 1905 Albert Einstein looked at particles in the air and in water. He noticed that they moved around in a very odd and random way, unless the particles were composed of smaller things such as molecules and atoms.  This motion was termed Brownian Motion. Einstein concluded that the mathematical description of Brownian motion is evidence for the an atoms existence. He also was able to determine about how big atoms are based on how much the Brownian particles moved.

Now, based on Brownian Motion we have determined that atoms are in fact real.  But how are atoms broken down? What keeps those things together to form the atom? There are two forces that keep a atom together Electromagnetic Force and Strong Force. The first force is Electromagnetic Force. If you have ever played with magnets, then you know that opposite sides pull together, and the same sides, no matter how hard you push, won’s stay together. 

It is the same principle in the atom. The Protons and the Electrons are opposites therefore they hold each other together.  But when you get a proton and a proton together in the nucleus then they tend to push away from each other. To stop this from happening there is the Strong Force which is even more powerful than the electromagnetic Force. This force is only possible with the addition of Neutrons to the nucleus.

If you wanted to Break up an atom there are multiple steps that could accomplish this.

1.  Get rid of the Electrons. One way to accomplish this is by shining a light on the atom. The photon that makes up light hits the electrons and causes them to leave the atom.

2. When left with the Nucleus, the concept to break it up is the same. The only difference is the strong force is more powerful and will require more energy than that in visible light.

Using these principles we have discovered when protons and neutrons  are hit with an incredibly strong force that they break into quarks which are also held together using the strong force.  From science we have learned that there are atoms. Atoms are made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Protons and Electrons are made up of quarks. Next: What are quarks made of? Only time will tell.

One thing I couldn’t get into is how we know there are protons, electrons, and neutrons. If you are interested in finding out go to:



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