Created by Wyken Seagrave.
If you could inflate a soccer ball to the size of the Earth, and proportionally magnify everything it contains, then the smallest things we could see with our naked eyes would be atoms, which would be about the size of grapes.
Here we show some examples of atoms. We have chosen those which are among the most important in the living things: hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and carbon.
In our diagram we use the commonly accepted colors for these atoms: white for hydrogen, red for oxygen, blue for nitrogen and black for carbon. We also show some other common objects which are about the same size.
Ball Bearing Image: simplybearings.co.uk; hazelnut and marble images: Ulla
Atoms are very different from the things we know in our everyday lives. Because they are so small, they obey different laws of physics, called "quantum mechanics", which give them very strange properties. For example, they can either be very hard and firm, like a ripe grape, or soft and squashy, like an over-ripe grape.
The soft and squashy types of atoms, which includes all those shown in the diagram above, can actually merge with each other and stick together, so forming clumps which we call molecules. See the molecules page on this website for more information.
At the centre of an atom there lies a tiny hard object called a "nucleus". This is similar to the pip inside a grape, only much, much smaller. In fact the nucleus of an atom on Soccearth would be so small that we could not see it with our naked eyes. In fact, even on Soccearth, the nucleus would still be as tiny as an atom is in the real world, which shows how very small it is!
For more information about atoms, visit the atoms page in the history of the universe website.comments powered by Disqus