This chapter title says it all. I want you to think of a proton-electron pair (aka hydrogen atom) as the excited state of a neutron.
Both sub-atomic reactions are possible and observed, p+ plus e- => n, and n => p+ plus e-. Both reactions have book-keeping problems with angular momentum, so have virtual particles called neutrinos absorbed or emitted. My point is, they can interconvert. From the point of view of the electronic charged electron, it can either be out wandering between orbitals, or it can be collapsed, trapped in close proximity to, even blended with, the proton, to form a neutron.
Clearly electrostatics says the bound state would have the lowest energy, but also the lowest entropy or randomness.
Whatever the nature of the vectors that make up the basis set for mass, the neutron and the hydrogen atom appear to be the two main stable states that can exist. Or mixtures thereof that clump together into heavier atoms etc., of course.
It helps me to visualize the basis set that makes up matter as a vibration between positive and negative charge. The lowest energy state has no vibration at all on the atomic-orbital scale, it is all tightly centered. If the system vibrates further, it causes the negative charge to appear away from the center, and the positive charge to be concentrated. The more energy, the more the electric charges are separated. In this way it is easy to see the progression as a series of energy levels, with the neutron being the lowest energy state. The only difference from the classic view is that you need a change in both energy and angular momentum to make this first leap.
Viewing the hydrogen atom (proton-electron pair) as an excited state of a neutron (albeit excited both in energy and angular momentum) opens the door to thinking of this system as another example of a harmonic oscillator.
In a later chapter, we discuss what happens when you put these particular two harmonic oscillators, one excited and one not, next to each other. I think you can see where we’re going here.
[© Copyright 2016 by Gerald Keep. All Rights Reserved.]