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Q & A: gravity waves from atoms?

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Most recent answer: 04/16/2016
Q:
Since electrons have mass, as they go around a nucleus they accelerate. Therefore.... do they create gravitational waves? Can the discovery of gravitational waves impact, in a mathematicalway on the science of quantum mechanics relative to particle duality?
- Sante Camo (age 73)
Trebisacce, Cosenza, Italy
A:

In the ground state of atoms, the mass distribution of the electron wave function doesn't change in time. Therefore it emits no graviational radiation. You can, however, prepare exctited states with mixtures of different energy values for which the electrons really are sort of like classical lumps orbiting around the nucleus. These would emit gravitational radiation. The problem is that they also emit electromagnetic raiation, and in far larger amounts. So as a practical matter, gravitational waves play no role in these processes.

Your suspicion, however, that quantized gravity waves might have some fundamental effect on the form of quantum theory is shared by many. We don't know how that's going to turn out.

Mike W.


(published on 04/16/2016)

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