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Atomic Disguise Makes Helium Look Like Hydrogen

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the no-this-is-me-in-a-nutshell dept.

Canada 127

An anonymous reader writes "In a feat of modern-day alchemy, atom tinkerers have fooled hydrogen atoms into accepting a helium atom as one of their own, reports New Scientist. Donald Fleming of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and colleagues managed to disguise a helium atom as a hydrogen atom by replacing one of its orbiting electrons with a muon, which is far heavier than an electron. The camouflaged atom behaves chemically like hydrogen, but has four times the mass of normal hydrogen, allowing predictions for how atomic mass affects reaction rates to be put to the test."

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Wow (-1, Redundant)

colinrichardday (768814) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049410)

That's interesting.

too bad they're so unstable (3, Interesting)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049426)

As I recall, the poor muon has an average lifetime of something like 2 microseconds. We might see some interesting theoretical chemistry come out of this (the reaction-rate question) but it looks like we'll end up a little light on practical applications of muons in chemical compounds.

Re:too bad they're so unstable (0)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049474)

Your sig, same here :)

Re:too bad they're so unstable (1)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049602)

Your sig, answered on xkcd [xkcd.com]

Re:too bad they're so unstable (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049704)

Your sig, answered here [this-page-...-blank.org] .

MCF, UDD (3, Interesting)

sanman2 (928866) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049574)

I remember that much past interest over muons and hydrogen has been around muon-catalyzed fusion. As you say, the muons are quite short-lived, which prevents them from catalyzing enough H-H fusions to get to breakeven. And then there was the alpha-sticking problem, whereby helium nuclei products then grab the muons, thus stealing them away from the process.

Check out ultra-dense deuterium, though. It's some kind of exotic form of matter, and there have recently been some tantalizing glimpses of it in nano-sized clumps.

Re:MCF, UDD (4, Interesting)

rgbatduke (1231380) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049936)

Yeah, like this. Sorry I didn't see your post. My Ph.D. advisor, Larry Biedenharn, was heavily involved in this for four or five years, but as I said, it didn't quite pan out partly because of the sticking problem, partly because one can only make muons at something like 10% energy efficiency (remembering from the many seminars we had on this back in those days, not looking up the exact numbers). Larry always thought they'd do it with a special "breeder" fission reactor to get the muons for free as a side-effect of making energy the other way to boost fission returns by a factor of 50% or so, but this never happened AFAIK.

It is still an open problem -- the question is really is there an environment where the He sticking problem is suppressed (they didn't find one, but I doubt the search was exhaustive) and is there any way to produce muons at higher efficiencies -- say some sort of resonant conversion of electrons into muons that beats 5-10%. My recollection is that they were within a factor of ten, maybe even within a factor of 2-3 of break even but couldn't quite find a way over the hump. They know way more about neutrinos now than they did back then -- one wonders if anybody is even thinking about it any more.

rgb

Re:MCF, UDD (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 3 years ago | (#35051656)

I think about it a different way: the way muons catalyse fusion reactions is by dramatically reducing the covalent bond length (due to their much greater mass, they orbit much closer to the nucleus). Ultra-short laser pulses are known to be able to "dress" electrons with effectively greater mass. I can't help but wonder if there's any prospects for using this to achieve the same thing.

Re:too bad they're so unstable (1)

rgbatduke (1231380) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049898)

The interesting possibility is and remains muon-catalyzed fusion. The stoichiometry is within roughly one order of magnitude of breaking even -- it costs too much to make a muon, a muon can catalyze too few fusion reactions to pay for itself in its lifetime, but it is close. Of course if you have a source of "free" muons, e.g. a nuclear reactor, one can basically use them to augment the energy production of the fission processes.

I thought that the auger replacement of electrons in diatomic hydrogen (and resulting collapse of the molecule to where fusion via tunnelling is likely) was already a pretty good test of mass effects in quantum theory twenty plus years ago, but this is still pretty science.

rgb

So, better weapons? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35049418)

Can we make a bomb out of it?

Re:So, better weapons? (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049438)

I'm pretty sure nuclear weapons (you know, dealing with the nucleus of the atom) already are much more energetic than anything that merely chemical can hope to muster, whether it be electrons or muons in your atoms' orbitals.

(Also, muons generally decay in a couple of microseconds, which has the potential to complicate the weapon delivery system).

Re:So, better weapons? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049798)

This doesn't necessarily exclude nuclear weapons. One of the ideas for fusion is to use hydrogen atoms with a muon instead of an electron orbiting them. Because the muon is heavier, it orbits closer, meaning that less energy is required to collide two together (once you get inside the lepton shell, the two nuclei repel each other until the strong attraction becomes greater than the electrostatic repulsion, at which point you have fusion).

Of course, as you say, the instability of muons makes this impractical.

Re:So, better weapons? (1)

Sanat (702) | more than 3 years ago | (#35050682)

You would just need really fast missiles. 5000 nautical miles in 2 microseconds ... well that would be a really bright idea.

Re:So, better weapons? (1)

jabuzz (182671) | more than 3 years ago | (#35054710)

Especially as you would be going 15444 times faster than the speed of light. The kinetic energy of 1kg of mass traveling at that speed (leaving aside that it is impossible) is equivalent to 2.5billion megatons of TNT so no need for any explosive component.

Re:So, better weapons? (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049496)

the change is in how it reacts chemically, so it would be unlikely to have nuclear effects, i suppose with enough you could try oxidizing it, but hydrogen gas doesn't make a good bomb, so this would likely not either.

Re:So, better weapons? (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049568)

Aren't the majority of nuclear bombs of the Teller-Ulam design? [wikipedia.org]

I guess it depends on the isotope.

Re:So, better weapons? (1)

Beretta Vexe (535187) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049876)

Tritium had a half life of 12years, it's really practical for a bomb. Most bomb use Lithium-6 as source of tritium.

Re:So, better weapons? (2)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049512)

You may be able to, but why would you want to. Helium is a lot more expensive than hydrogen to begin with, and this "mutated" helium is probably an order of magnitude more expensive still. Of course, hydrogen bombs work by fusing hydrogen into helium, so your bomb would have to fuse helium into lithium or beryllium. That's probably a harder reaction to establish and may not yield as much. (Although it should be noted that fusion bombs typically bombard lithium with neutrons and fission it into tritium, which then fuses into helium.)

So... more expensive and not as powerful. Regular bombs would give you more bang for your buck.

Re:So, better weapons? (1)

camperslo (704715) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049736)

Oh don't worry about the cost. Just borrow the money from the people you're going to blow up. They may not be around to collect!

Anybody figured out how to disguise... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35049440)

Excellent research... now, has anybody figured out how to disguise C21H30O2 in the form
    ()-(6aR,10aR)-6,6,9-trimethyl-3-pentyl-6a,7,8,10a-tetrahydro-6H-benzo[c]chromen-1-ol

Re:Anybody figured out how to disguise... (2)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049456)

I have bad news for you. If you disguise your THC so that it acts like a different chemical compound, it probably won't actually make you high anymore.

Re:Anybody figured out how to disguise... (1)

stjobe (78285) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049636)

Wooosh.

Rules for posting 'Woooosh' (3, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049874)

Rule #1: the joke has to be funny, at least funnier than the explanation, which is not the case here.

Super cool (4, Insightful)

chihowa (366380) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049450)

This is super cool, but less for the kinetic isotope effect (KIE) studies and more for the muon-electron substitution. We've compared isotope masses with reaction rates using deuterium and tritium before, so using "H-4" and "H-5" is nice for extended validation, but not unexpected. The muonium is pretty bad-ass, though.

Re:Super cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35049824)

This is super cool...

But can it be used for super conduction?

Still cool in the other way, too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35050004)

FTA, the point here was the mass ratio. The ratio in this case was 36.4, as opposed to 3 with regular H isotopes. It also turned out that these predictions did not hold at lower temperatures, implying there's something that becomes significant when the atoms are larger and cooler that is not accounted for as of yet.

for the birds (0)

epine (68316) | more than 3 years ago | (#35051060)

In related news, GE UK today announces the discovery that muonium Cooper pairs confined within a transparent aluminum lattice lengthens tau while decreasing atomic radius, potentially leading to a viable fusion energy source.

"It's possible we could fabricate power transmission lines directly from Transparent Muominium(TM) (TM), and disconnect the generating stations completely," declared a GE scientist, thumbing his nose at a rival division. "We've already begun a series of avian studies on TM power line safety. Of tests so far, the Nike proposal is presently the front runner. The bird brain is pre-adapted to this flagging icon, with effectiveness just slightly below live kittens."

GE aims to scale their prototype muominium fusion lattice to commercial production by the year 2020. Membership renewals with The International Federation of Kite Owners sagged 5% on the news.

Re:for the birds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35051136)

So....flying cars, finally?

The crying game (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35049454)

Several of the hydrogen atoms became quite sick upon discovering the unexpected proton the morning after.

Re:The crying game (1)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049726)

They should have paid more attention to the tell-tale stubble.

No, wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35049508)

IT'S A TRAP!

Let's deplete helium sooner! (0)

dalmor (231338) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049514)

There was an article [slashdot.org] already about helium depletion coming soon. Hopefully this is a proof of concept for other elements and not a new way to make hydrogen.

Re:Let's deplete helium sooner! (2)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049558)

Are you serious????

It's an experiment confirming QM predictions of reaction rates varying with mass, not a way to produce a hydrogen alternative for general use (because a fast decaying hydrogen that you need a particle accelerator to make is so useful...)

Re:Let's deplete helium sooner! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35049642)

I do hope you're joking. I can think of at least 6 reasons why your worry is laughable if you're serious.

Re:Let's deplete helium sooner! (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049690)

You know how /. is. He can take the time to post a link to a prior discussion; but, can't be bothered to RTFA and see it describes an experiment to test reaction rate theories.

Re:Let's deplete helium sooner! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35049588)

Indeed! Let's try to find a way to make a helium substitute using other elements.
Also, replacements for other elements that are on the rarer occurrence scales.

Of course, it probably won't be that easy as the element numbers rise.
This was probably hard enough just trying to replace 1 electron.
Either way, research in to Muonium is a good thing. Anything that helps aid progression in particle physics and chemistry is good.

Re:Let's deplete helium sooner! (2)

Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049608)

Nah, it won't be useful outside of the lab. Those muons just decay too fast. This is very obnoxious, because muons catalyze fusion - they tighten up the nucleous, so it's easier for another atom to get in and fuse. If they lasted a bit longer (say 2x or 3x), then muon catalyzed fusion would be a practical energy source.

Re:Let's deplete helium sooner! (4, Funny)

confused one (671304) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049734)

There's no helium shortage. There's shitloads of it over there *waves in direction of Jupiter*

Re:Let's deplete helium sooner! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35050806)

Alright, go and fetch a barrel.

Re:Let's deplete helium sooner! (2)

confused one (671304) | more than 3 years ago | (#35052348)

Alright, go and fetch a barrel.

I will. At that small a quantity though, there's going to be a considerable per unit cost. 1 barrel of Helium, from Jupiter, guaranteed delivery, will cost you $49 billion. I'll bring you the contract tomorrow, if you're interested.

Might I suggest you consider buying it in bulk?

HHeO/HeHO or He2O? (1)

M8e (1008767) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049540)

Can we make these now? What would they be called?

Re:HHeO/HeHO or He2O? (2)

McNihil (612243) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049916)

Don't forget C2He6O Highliumanol ofcourse ;-)

what everyone wants to know... (5, Interesting)

Cyko_01 (1092499) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049548)

does it make your voice go higher or lower when inhaled?

Re:what everyone wants to know... (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049702)

Yes.

Re:what everyone wants to know... (3, Informative)

Menkhaf (627996) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049712)

I guess it was a joke, but it should be rather simple to determine: if the gas if lighter than the atmosphere you're breathing, your voice will be lighter if you inhale this.

Re:what everyone wants to know... (4, Interesting)

sploxx (622853) | more than 3 years ago | (#35050106)

To be more specific, the molecular weight of normal He to He with one muon attached is roughly 4.1/4.0. The change in pitch relative to breathing He should be the square root of that ratio, which is a change of about 1.2%. For someone with absolute pitch, it may be possible to hear the difference of tone of a musical instrument. But I doubt anyone will hear a difference when a person speaks.

Re:what everyone wants to know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35050178)

How about gas of molecules made of two disguised helium atoms?

Re:what everyone wants to know... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35050744)

Actually, it would be able to form diatomic molecules, so the mass ratio would be 8.2/4. Taking the square root of that would leave you with a pitch approximately half an octave lower than normal helium.
that said, the half-life of this stuff is shorter than the period of many audible sounds, so it's a rather pointless calculation.

Re:what everyone wants to know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35049848)

If you had a bottle of this, it'd still be less dense than nitrogen or oxygen. Your voice would still be higher.

Re:what everyone wants to know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35049868)

Yes, but it also gives you cancer.

Muon catalyzed fusion (3, Informative)

DCFusor (1763438) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049566)

Is theorized to work with fusible fuels (say deuterium). But muons don't seem to live long enough to make it practical, they take a lot of energy per to make and have very short lives. In essence, they don't live long enough to catalyze enough fusion to pay back the energy of creation at this point.

So what's interesting is that they were able to do this at all -- either they found a way to extend muon life (unlikely, or that would be the main news here), or they worked insanely fast to get their results before the decay.

Re:Muon catalyzed fusion (3, Informative)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 3 years ago | (#35053222)

In essence, they don't live long enough to catalyze enough fusion to pay back the energy of creation at this point. That is for free myons!!! As soon as they are bound to an atom core and involved in a chemical bound they live as long as any other particle ... e.g. an electron. Angel

Disguise? Really? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35049578)

The article headline is designed to be misleading and attention-grabbing. Also, "...atom tinkerers have fooled hydrogen atoms into accepting a helium atom as one of their own..". You can't fool hydrogen. You can cook up something that acts like hydrogen, but 'fooling hydrogen' is just inappropriate use of language. It implies that hydrogen is somehow 'intelligent'.

I've been seeing more of these lately....buck up, /.

Re:Disguise? Really? (1)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049640)

News flash: time can't actually fly, love doesn't actually bite, and the wind rarely cries "Mary".

Metaphors and anthropomorphization are useful tools for teaching and understanding. Nobody actually thinks that hydrogen is intelligent: the only people who are bothered by this are folks with Asperger's and people with zero sense of humor or creativity. Which are you?

Re:Disguise? Really? (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049754)

Humans really hate personification. We definitely don't do it constantly to pretty much any plant, animal or object.

the narrative vice (1)

epine (68316) | more than 3 years ago | (#35050312)

Humans really hate personification. We definitely don't do it constantly to pretty much any plant, animal or object.

Programmed for Love [chronicle.com]
The art of good writing [ft.com]

I don't think in the second article that Adam Haslett brought much to the party. He seems to forget that one must first weed the flower bed before cultivating bonsai plants.

Many people have this view of human language akin to believing that your statement grammar is your entire language, which might border on the truth in Forth, Lisp, or APL. Hideously far from the truth if the language contains strong types, OOP, templates, exceptions, closures, or introspection.

OOP verges on personification. Bank accounts ingest and regurgitate, etc.

What was the topic again? Oh yes, muonium kicks ass.

"Very Sexy"? (1)

eyenot (102141) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049582)

That's right up there with the air in China being "crazy bad".

I miss the olden days when scientists would speak appropriately about their topics. These days it's too much filmreel, not enough plain real. Too much Hollywood and MTV and too little importance behind their work.

You've obviously never breathed Beijing air (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35050588)

"Crazy bad" is an understatement. Like trying to suck a backhoe into your lungs is more like it.

Muons quickly decay, amazed they can get chemistry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35049596)

Muons decay with a half life of about 2 microseconds. It's really amazing they can measure any chemical reaction rates at this time scale. Creating these atoms with muons replacing the electrons has been done for years.

The slippery slope (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35049612)

Rick Santorum was right. Gay marriage leads to a slippery slope... man on man, man on dog, helium on hydrogen...

We've truly lost the culture wars.

Interesting (0)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049616)

This discovery might really be ground-breaking if it can reduce the volatility of hydrogen and make it more suitable for use in traditional, internal combustion engines in cars and small trucks. I don't believe electric cars are really the answer to a cleaner environment because batteries have a finite life span and use caustic chemicals. However, I believe some scientists expressed concern over helium depletion. Here is a link about a http://www.physorg.com/news201853523.html [slashdot.org] ">theory of helium depletion. Again, it is a theory so take it with a grain of sand.

Re:Interesting (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049720)

Uh, no. Or to quote someone with more standing, "I don't believe that word means what you think it means."

Re:Interesting (2)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049920)

If it is a theory, it is supported by many strands of scientific evidence, and so should be taken seriously. But maybe it is not a theory, just a hypothesis. Please try not to misuse the word "theory", it only helps the creationists, quack doctors, climate change denialists and so on in their attempts to discredit science.

Hydrogen Footprint (1)

Stealthey (587986) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049630)

Government: uhm....Yea..but is it green? Prof: This is science, applications come after Government: Can't use it in election. Grant Denied Next Man: This is high gloss lipstick Government: Does it help me in Election Next Man: It will Make PM look 10 years younger with better lips than Angelina Jolie Prime Minister: Grant for $10,000,0000 approved. Have it ready in 6 months Ugh!!! could've done better :( I am comedically challenged...

Muon on over... (4, Funny)

Mr Z (6791) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049710)

I come in last night about half past ten,
That hydrogen wouldn't let me in.
So muon on over. Rock it on over.
Move over little atom, a mean, old atom's muon in.

Further study (2)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049730)

It seems that after infiltrating the molecular structure, the rogue atom saps the sentries before heading to the Intel Room to steal the briefcase.

Great work at TRIUMF (5, Informative)

sackvillian (1476885) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049860)

For those wondering what the experiment entailed:

Fleming's team shot muons produced at the TRIUMF accelerator in Vancouver into a cloud of helium, molecular hydrogen and ammonia. The helium atoms captured the muons, then pulled hydrogen atoms away from the molecular hydrogen and bonded with them.

This was all done at TRIUMF, the world's largest cyclotron and by far the best particle accelerator in Canada. Plus, Donald Truhlar (a giant in the field) supported the experimental rate constants with quantum mechanical predictions - very neat stuff indeed!

Re:Great work at TRIUMF (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35050128)

so...this was a TRIUMF? You're making a note here, "huge success"? Can you hardly contain your satisfaction?

Re:Great work at TRIUMF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35050708)

atomic science, we did what we must because we could. for the good of all of us....

Re:Great work at TRIUMF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35050132)

This was at TRIUMF?

I'm making a note here.

Re:Great work at TRIUMF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35050148)

This was all done at TRIUMF, the world's largest cyclotron and by far the best particle accelerator in Canada.

While both of these are true - but isn't that like bragging about having the world's largest tube based computer and the the best tube based computer in Canada?.

Re:Great work at TRIUMF - props, people (1)

DCFusor (1763438) | more than 3 years ago | (#35051216)

Good job by our friends to the North, I say -- Props, guys. Denigrating their equipment is ignorant, do you think it takes a better or worse scientist to get to meaningful results on the new shiny stuff, or the older stuff, anyway. Did someone with fancier stuff find this first elsewhere? Then who's got the good scientists, again?

Re:Great work at TRIUMF - props, people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35053306)

The creators of Stargate SG-1 have the best scientists - of course.

Re:Great work at TRIUMF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35051674)

This was at TRIUMF.
I'm making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS.
It's hard to overstate my satisfaction.

Re:Great work at TRIUMF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35054292)

I live on the UBC Campus (a non-student, the campus has plenty of housing for ordinary folk to live here). My place is a 5 minute walk from TRIUMF.

I always wondered what they do there, it's nice to know they're doing some pretty leading edge stuff.

-Kudos.

Country bumpkin chemistry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35049896)

Helium + Hydrogen = He H awe

Backwards? (1)

volpe (58112) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049900)

The summary says they start with a helium atom (which has 2 protons and 2 neutrons), and they make it look like a hydrogen atom (with only one proton and no neutrons) my making it *heavier*? This makes no sense whatsoever

Nevermind, I was confused (1)

volpe (58112) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049926)

I read it too quickly. I'm the one who had it backwards. I thought, because of the muon's negative charge, it would continue to behave like Helium chemically, but would be heavier (presumably like Hydrogen, which is lighter, which is why I thought it was backwards).

Re:Backwards? (1)

sploxx (622853) | more than 3 years ago | (#35050120)

A muon has about a tenth the mass of a proton/neutron. An electron only has only about a 1/2000th the mass of a proton/neutron.

Re:Backwards? (1)

tendrousbeastie (961038) | more than 3 years ago | (#35051178)

They took the Helium atom and replaced one electron with a muon. The clever part is that they managed to get the muon in an orbital shell so low that it effectively cancelled out the positive charge of one of the protons on the nucleus. So it results in an atom with a nucleus of 4 nucleons and one muon (in low orbit) with +1 charge and one electron (in normal orbit) with -1 charge.

Chemically (i.e. under electroweak theory) this behaves like hydrogen (+1 charge nucleus and a -1 charge electron shell)

I don't understand how they can get the muon to a lower orbit than the electron? I guess if e=hf then a heavy muon must have a higher frequency than an (light) electron, and so a shorter wavelength, so a smaller atomic orbit (the orbit being the standing Schrodinger wave)

Crossdress (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35049990)

Cross-dressing atoms? You sicko liberals should be ashamed of yourselves!

Can you make extra heavy water? (1)

XiaoK (1468565) | more than 3 years ago | (#35050026)

Can you combine two of these muon hyrdogens with an oxygen atom to create extra heavy water?

Protonz? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35050028)

From what I understand, the number of protons determined an atoms physical properties. So why does a muon, with it's extra weight change this?

Chemically, but what about stoically? (1)

Vandil X (636030) | more than 3 years ago | (#35050284)

Helium is much larger than Hydrogen. Would the bond angles be the same? Would the physical shape of the Helium atom allow it to attach to carbon chains and hexane/benzene structures to make pseudo-hydrocarbons?

Re:Chemically, but what about stoically? (4, Informative)

cnettel (836611) | more than 3 years ago | (#35050482)

The atom has no physical shape. If the p1 orbital occupied by the single electron is similar enough "chemically", the effective radius will also be identical.

Re:Chemically, but what about stoically? (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 3 years ago | (#35053234)

Dude, we are talking about one helium Atom and one hydrogen Atom. How many angles can those two atoms probably build? Angel

Re:Chemically, but what about stoically? (1)

sFurbo (1361249) | more than 3 years ago | (#35054636)

Actually, He is much smaller than H http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_radius#Calculated_atomic_radii [wikipedia.org]

He-mu-e will probably be a bit larger than He, as the muon is heavier than the electron and resides closer to the nucleus, shielding the charge better.

Ehh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35050316)

HeH, HeH, HeH.

Hmmm (1)

Sla$hPot (1189603) | more than 3 years ago | (#35050906)

Would it be four times thicker than normal H?
And would a car drive 4 times longer on a tank full?
If so it would also be a great rocket booster.
Too bad that the muon is so short lived.
One should try to add some Ginseng root to the collider

Electrons don't "orbit". (0)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35051042)

While the "orbital" model may be useful for simple chemistry and some other work, electrons do not "orbit" the nucleus. This has been known for some 70-odd years. Time to get with the program.

Born-Oppenheimer Approximation (1, Interesting)

cyberfunk2 (656339) | more than 3 years ago | (#35051552)

By the way... I think the commentator in the attached perspective (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/331/6016/411.full) gets the born-oppenheimer approximation wrong... he states that :

"The BO approximation makes possible the practical application of quantum mechanics to all of molecular science. As the arrangement of the nuclei changes, the BO approximation postulates that the electrons will remain in a particular quantum state. "

When the BO approximation is the opposite : The atoms DONT move while the electrons DO (relatively speaking) because of their vast difference in mass. That is... the electrons are little bullets whizzing around at top speed, whereas the atoms are massive aircraft carriers in terms of mass (note: this is not meant to be even a remotely accurate analogy, but it's the general idea). You'd think that SCIENCE, of all journals, would get the Born-Oppenheimer approximation right !

Note: That in the second step of a typical quantum mech. calculation (e.g. a geometry optimization), you then use the average field generated in the first part to move the atoms (if they need to move in the particular calculation). Then you iterate to self-consistency.

They're right, you're wrong. (1)

MoellerPlesset2 (1419023) | more than 3 years ago | (#35054900)

"As the arrangement of the nuclei changes, the BO approximation postulates that the electrons will remain in a particular quantum state. " is an entirely correct description.

The BO approximation does not assume that the nuclei are completely stationary. What you're talking about with that is what's called a clamped-nuclei Hamiltonian.

You stated the rationale behind the BO-approximation without understanding it. Because of the difference in mass, the nuclei are practically stationary relative the electron's frame of motion. That does not mean they are stationary.
What it means is that the potential the electrons 'see' from the nuclei varies very slowly. If a potential on a particle changes sufficiently slowly, then the particle remains in the same state - that's the adiabatic theorem.
"Adiabatic" because no energy is thus being transferred to the particle. In the BO approximation, no kinetic energy is being transferred between the nuclei and electrons. That is what the BO-approximation is.

By assuming that, the nuclear-electronic kinetic-energy coupling terms disappear from the Molecular Hamiltonian, which allows you to separate it into an electronic and nuclear Hamiltonian.
Then, you might additionally assume clamped-nuclei. But not necessarily. Quantum molecular-dynamics simulations are usually done with the BO-approximation in place.

You'd think that SCIENCE, of all journals, would get the Born-Oppenheimer approximation right !

You'd think someone would have the common-sense to check up their own knowledge before assuming that a distinguished professor
who's been doing quantum chemistry since the early 60's doesn't know the stuff you teach on an introductory course of the subject.

And for my next trick... (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 3 years ago | (#35051620)

And for my next trick, making lead into gold.

Re:And for my next trick... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35054048)

step 1 make muon fools gold
step 2 profit
step 3 Disappear and change Identity
step 4 ???
step 5 build muon fools gold detector
step 6 profit more

Behaved chemically..... (1)

scurvyj (1158787) | more than 3 years ago | (#35052212)

..... like hydrogen? Ok I'll go read the article.

Chemicall, it's not helium at all (1)

JoeBuck (7947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35052760)

Helium behaves as it does (as an inert gas) because its outer shell is filled. The Pauli exclusion principle means that you can't force another electron into the same place, so an He+ ion would have its extra electron in a higher energy level and very loosely attached. But the Pauli exclusion principle doesn't apply if you have one electron and one muon; the muon's average position is much closer to the nucleus (since the muon is about 200 times heavier), shielding the positive charge of the nucleus. So to any other atom the "helium atom" looks as if it were a very heavy hydrogen atom, as if it had one proton and three neutrons in its nucleus.

Also, the muon's half-life is less than 2 microseconds, so any experiments have to be done very, very quickly.

Cat's Cradle, anyone? (0)

RedBear (207369) | more than 3 years ago | (#35054694)

Wow. For the first time I'm actually a little bit freaked out by a science story. They're disassembling an atom and making it behave like a different kind of atom? That's spooky. Here's why this spooks me: This strongly reminds me of the fictional substance "ice-nine" in Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle, which was just a slightly "modified" form of water that was solid at room temperature. It had the unfortunate attribute that it would change any normal water into ice-nine on contact, thus causing a worldwide cataclysm when released into the wild. Until this moment I was unable to really picture how one could "modify" a simple molecule like H2O and wind up with something that was still H2O and thus still be able to call it "water". This technique would make that possible.

I hope and pray (to the mythical God that I don't even believe in) that these people messing with the basic structure of atoms know what they're doing. I've never put any stock in silly ideas like the LHC creating black holes or any of that other nonsense people come up with, but this particular story gives me the willies. Helium is one step away from hydrogen. What if they did something similar to a hydrogen atom and it turned out to be able to create new copies of itself just by somehow interacting with normal hydrogen molecules? To those who would immediately say "pish tosh" without thinking about the implications, I'd have to respond by asking how do we know such a thing can't happen when we go around mucking with the very nature of an atom's structure? It's one thing to go around breaking down molecules into their component atoms, or atoms into their component sub-atomic particles, but I think it may be a whole different ball game to go around creating hybrid atoms (and thus hybrid elements) with possibly unknown or unknowable interactions with other atoms/elements.

Or maybe I'm being silly and the scientists know exactly what they're doing. Riiiiiight...

I'll be even more spooked if I find out this sort of thing can't happen in nature. If they're managing to artificially create something that has never been able to exist in the entire history of the universe, it may be time to pull a Peter Griffin, i.e., "WHOA, WHOA, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whooaaa... Are you sure your math is right and you're not gonna destroy the universe?"

Scientists: "Yes."

Peter: "OK. Nevermind."

Scientists: "Whoops!"

Universe: "BOOOOM!!!"

better fuel (1)

vmaldia (1846072) | more than 3 years ago | (#35054750)

wouldn't it be nice if this would be more powerful than standard liquid hydrogen + liquid oxygen for rocket fuel? It probably isnt but one can dream.

Cat's Cradle (2)

RedBear (207369) | more than 3 years ago | (#35054816)

Wow. For the first time I'm actually a little bit freaked out by a science story. They're disassembling an atom and making it behave like a different kind of atom? That's spooky. Here's why this spooks me: This strongly reminds me of the fictional substance "ice-nine" in Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle, which was just a slightly "modified" form of water that was solid at room temperature. It had the unfortunate attribute that it would change any normal water into ice-nine on contact, thus causing a worldwide cataclysm when released into the wild. Until this moment I was unable to really picture how one could "modify" a simple molecule like H2O and wind up with something that was still H2O and thus still be able to call it "water". This technique would make that possible.

I hope and pray (to the mythical God that I don't even believe in) that these people messing with the basic structure of atoms know what they're doing. I've never put any stock in silly ideas like the LHC creating black holes or any of that other nonsense people come up with, but this particular story gives me the willies. Helium is one step away from hydrogen. What if they did something similar to a hydrogen atom and it turned out to be able to create new copies of itself just by somehow interacting with normal hydrogen molecules? To those who would immediately say "pish tosh" without thinking about the implications, I'd have to respond by asking how do we know such a thing can't happen when we go around mucking with the very nature of an atom's structure? It's one thing to go around breaking down molecules into their component atoms, or atoms into their component sub-atomic particles, but I think it may be a whole different ball game to go around creating hybrid atoms (and thus hybrid elements) with possibly unknown or unknowable interactions with other atoms/elements.

Or maybe I'm being silly and the scientists know exactly what they're doing. Riiiiiight...

I'll be even more spooked if I find out this sort of thing can't happen in nature. If they're managing to artificially create something that has never been able to exist in the entire history of the universe, it may be time to pull a Peter Griffin, i.e., "WHOA, WHOA, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whooaaa... Are you sure your math is right and you're not gonna destroy the universe?"

Scientists: "Yes."

Peter: "OK. Nevermind."

Scientists: "Whoops!"

Universe: "BOOOOM!!!"

P.S. The new Slashdot is broken. Good job guys. I tried to post this comment once already and it never showed up, but it's listed in the sidebar of my comment page and it wouldn't let me repost the same comment. Even though the link doesn't exist.

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