Quantum Field Theories
Quantum Physics is the branch of physics that deals with studying the structure of an atom and the various forces that hold it together. There is no single theory associated with quantum physics; it involves quantum mechanics, which is the basic mathematical framework in that field. Quantum Physics works on a particle basis, meaning it is too small to be visible to the naked eye. Quantum mechanics was grouped with Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity to understand how things function in real life, leading to the discovery of three quantum field theories.
The quantum theories explain the various forces that the atom experiences: electromagnetism, strong nuclear forces, and weak nuclear forces. Each of these forces has a different function. For instance, the principles of the electromagnetic force help explain what holds the atom together. James Maxwell, 1870, suggested that when a charged particle moves under acceleration, it emits alternating electric and magnetic fields. These are known as electromagnetic waves.
The nucleus, a positively charged entity at the center of the atom that makes up most of the mass of the atom, is responsible for the stability of the atom due to the strong nuclear forces. It exerts an attractive force on the negatively charged electrons, and by allowing them to remain in their orbit, ensures the stability of the atom. In the absence of strong nuclear forces, the electrons in an atom would move freely, leaving it with ‘x’ protons and no electrons, making the atom very unstable.
Weak Nuclear Forces, involving the emission of alpha and beta rays, reveal why some atoms undergo radioactive decay. In Alpha rays, the nucleus releases two protons and two neutrons, decreasing the atomic mass by 4amu. In beta rays, the neutron divides into one electron and one proton. Since the proton is a nuclear subatomic particle, the mass number doesn’t change in beta radiation. However, the atomic number does change because there is an extra electron emitted.
Here, I end the introduction to the three quantum field theories. I hope you learned something new and would seek to further your knowledge on this fascinating topic!
– Garv Pundir