• Question: Why do atoms fly?

    Asked by Dr. Science to Lauren, Marisol, Michael, Sarah, Sophie on 17 Nov 2016.
    • Photo: Lauren Burt

      Lauren Burt answered on 17 Nov 2016:


      I am going to have a go at this question, but I haven’t learnt about this since school!
      I think atoms move around because of their energy and charge, as if they are flying!
      In something which we think is ‘solid’ all of the atoms are attracted to each other so much that they keep together with each other, and move a tiny bit.
      If you warm certain atoms up then they move more, and this movement can cancel out the ‘attraction’ so that they move apart from eachother.
      In a liquid, the atoms move around each other, but are still attracted to each other.
      In a gas they vibrate and move around a lot and bounce off eachother, as they are less attracted to each other! This makes them ‘fly’ around!

      Does that help a little bit?


    • Photo: Michael Rivera

      Michael Rivera answered on 17 Nov 2016:

      Lauren explains the three phases of matter really well – atoms act differently in solids, liquids and gases – and only in gases, do atoms ‘fly’.

      In human bones, you might be interested in knowing that atoms are organised in a solid structure. I have friends who have found that bone is actually made up of two different materials – one is called ‘collagen’, which is soft and flexible, and the other is called ‘apatite’ which is hard and fragile! When combined in a complex manner, collagen and apatite molecules form something that is really hard and tough, but also slightly flexible. For instance, just think about how your ribs bend just a little bit when you breathe in!

      Michael 🙂