Are protons, neutrons, and electrons perfect spheres?

Oh dear. These answers seem to be misleading and completely wrong. This is because the question is complex and not easily answered by the terms used. Because electrons, protons, etc. They don’t have any shapes.

Subatomic particles don’t look like what you see. We also don’t have the cognitive resources to visualize them. We can only use metaphors to attempt to capture a small glimpse. Point-particles, and waves, are two examples of such metaphors. These things behave in some ways like particles, while in others they act like waves. However, both particles and waves are flawed metaphors and we will always be wrong when trying to describe protons and electrons using them. This is a technical term that refers to something too far from your own experience. Theologians call it a mystery.

In his famous TED talk, Ken Robinson tells the story of a little girl who draws a picture. She explains to the teacher that she is drawing a picture about God. The teacher says, “But, nobody knows what God looks like.” She responds, “They will in a moment!”

It is easy to draw a picture with a proton.

There are many reasons these particles are drawn as perfectly spheres. The sphere is the closest shape to having no shape. Any other drawing will have wrong details. Atoms have no corners. They don’t have holes the way donuts have. They don’t have holes like donuts. The particles behave in a symmetrical manner so a circle has symmetry. It’s not right.

Recently, I was reading a popularization that I don’t recall the source of. If you know it, please let me know in the comments. According to the writer, particles should not be viewed as balls but rather as ponds. It is something I like, but it is wrong. If you take it literally it will cause even more problems.

All things below the subatomic level are beyond our comprehension and our imaginations are not equipped to see them. Two quotes are a reminder of me, the first from Neils Bohr. “When it comes to Atoms, Language can only be used as in Poetry.” David Hilbert, a great mathematician, remarked to another mathematician, “You know, for mathematicians he didn’t have enough imagination. But he has since become a poet, and he is doing well!”

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