Physics/eV

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Question
Hi Steve,

When an electron absorbs energy and goes to a higher energy state does it:

Jumps/shifts to a higher orbit? If so how does it get there since it is not allowed to transit in continous energy...it absorbs discreet eV. Does it just "disappear" from one location and "appear" in another..if so does it not violate the conservation of matter Principle? Thanks!

Answer
No, nothing like that.  The electron has a wavefunction, which shifts to a different form as the electron absorbs the energy. The wavefunction describes how the electron is essentially distributed through the space around the atom (you can argue the finer details, but that's about it).  These semi-classical notions of orbits and such don't really apply at the quantum level.

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Dr. Stephen O. Nelson

Expertise

I can answer most basic physics questions, physics questions about science fiction and everyday observations of physics, etc. I'm also usually good for science fair advice (I'm the regional science fair director). I do not answer homework problems. I will occasionally point out where a homework solution went wrong, though. I'm usually good at explaining odd observations that seem counterintuitive, energy science, nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, and alternative theories of physics are my specialties.

Experience

I was a physics professor at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, research in nuclear technology and nuclear astrophysics. My travelling science show saw over 20,000 students of all ages. I taught physics, nuclear chemistry, radiation safety, vacuum technology, and answer tons of questions as I tour schools encouraging students to consider careers in science. I moved on to a non-academic job with more research just recently.

Education/Credentials
Ph. D. from Duke University in physics, research in nuclear astrophysics reactions, gamma-ray astronomy technology, and advanced nuclear reactors.

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