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Quantum Mechanical Atomic Model

Estimating the location of an electron within an atom.

Atoms Practice
Practice Quantum Mechanical Atomic Model
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Right There or Somewhere

Right There or Somewhere

Credit: Wonderlane
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wonderlane/5835003727/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

You decide to build a new fence on the edge of your property. Later you learn that your fence is one foot over the property line and is on your neighbor’s property. Unless you can come to an agreement, your neighbor has the right to make you move your fence. Other property encroachments can be more expensive. An attachment to a house was built two feet onto a neighboring property. Oops! The home owner had to buy those two feet (and it was expensive). It’s worth spending the money to determine exactly where the boundary line is.

Amazing But True

  • When we look at a diagram showing the structure of the hydrogen atom, we see neatly spaced electron orbits. We also see electrons jumping from one well-defined path to another. This is a simple, understandable picture that we can easily grasp.
  • A whole other way of looking at the world also stretches our minds. The quantum mechanical model looks at probabilities – what is the likelihood that a given electron will be in a given spot at a given time? Nothing can really be pinned down. It’s like asking directions to a grocery store and being told “It’s somewhere in town.” At least the grocery store doesn’t move, but electrons are in constant motion. No wonder we can’t pin them down.
  • Property surveys need to be very precise. It can be expensive and frustrating to make mistakes with the boundaries of your land. Boundary markers are carefully placed and documented in detail. The “probability approach” would not work here, but it seems to get the job done in atoms.
  • Credit: Daniel Lobo
    Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/daquellamanera/166279459/
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Clearly marked property lines [Figure2]


  • Watch a video dealing with the Bohr model at the link below:


What Do You Think?

Use the links below to learn more about atomic models. The answer the following questions.

  1. How accurate are the measurements using a GPS survey?
  2. Could Bohr’s model explain all electron spectra?
  3. What is the main difference between the Bohr model and the quantum mechanical model?
  4. Does the quantum mechanical model work for all elements?

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Wonderlane; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wonderlane/5835003727/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Daniel Lobo; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/daquellamanera/166279459/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0


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