General Question

marinelife's avatar

What force holds the atoms that make us up together?

Asked by marinelife (62485points) July 4th, 2009

And what dictates that we are us rather than a rock?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

13 Answers

Jayne's avatar

They are held together by electromagnetic forces (classified, somewhat arbitrarily, as dipole-dipole attractions, ionic bonds, London dispersion forces, covalent bonds, etc.) and to a much lesser extent by gravity. The strong and weak nuclear forces theoretically also have some effect, but as their names suggest they are almost entirely confined to the nuclear subparticles. And these are the exact same forces that hold a rock together. I can find nothing that makes us fundamentally different from a rock. Our behavior and composition happens to be vastly more complicated, but so is that of a computer, and that of a planet, and that of a hurricane. And I see no reason to believe that there is any difference.

Jayne's avatar

Tell me, on what order is love’s variance with distance?

Ivan's avatar

The only thing that differentiates us between a rock is what types of atoms we are made out of as well as how they are arranged.

marinelife's avatar

@Jayne Thanks for the thoughtful and honest response. We don’t really know, do we?

@Ivan That is my question in slightly different words. What differentiates how they are arranged?

Ivan's avatar


Well, ultimately it’s chemistry. Certain atoms react with other atoms in certain ways. Rocks are typically made of Silicon and Oxygen (although they can be made of many, many more elements). 2 Oxygen Atoms will readily bond with 1 Silicon atom. This new compound then “bonds” with other identical compounds. If there are enough of them, they form a giant lattice crystal, which we call a rock.

Obviously the chemistry of humans (and most rocks) is much more complicated than that, but you get the idea.

dannyc's avatar

What holds things together is reality, gravity, and your questioning mind. You are different than a rock, are composed of different elements, and are much more complex. What life is as opposed to a rock is what your eyes perceive, and what you believe that difference to be. It’s all in the genes…and evolution, we are to believe. A rock would see no difference.

Ivan's avatar


God is the electromagnetic force? Interesting.

Jayne's avatar

And the devil is a Faraday cage!

nebule's avatar

someone said the other day that we are all just a bunch of ‘space’ really…can’t remember where that was…

Ivan's avatar


Well, the vast majority of the space occupied by atoms is empty space.

nebule's avatar

yes…that’s what I meant :) I knew it was something along those lines x

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