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Why does energy “travel” in “circles” inside an atom?

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I’ve been puzzled by a strange fact recently, and am publishing this issue in the hope of getting an answer to my question from the ether called the internet.

Three basic facts, first.
a) Energy can never be destroyed. Every drop of energy created at the Big Bang still exists and will continue to exist for ever.
b) Every object remains in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.
c) Energy is essentially a wave and will always travel in a straight line through vacuum (corollary of (b)).

This means that the wave-like energy created at the moment of the Big Bang never changes “direction” but ALWAYS and invariably travels in a straight line, for ever. We do know that the low energy radiation produced at the Big Bang is “visible” as microwave radiation today due to red shift. But we also know that most of the energy was converted into sub-atomic particles. Most of the Big Bang’s energy is therefore found inside matter (e=mc2).

The energy inside atoms has been goinground and round intinycirclesthrough vacuumfor about 13.7 billion years, and will do so for many more billion years. Nothing can make this energy change direction. Hence, unless an atom is impacted in a nuclear or fusion reaction, it is going to remain unchanged for ever. That much is clear.

The question I have is this:
If energy can only travel in a straight line, then under ordinary laws no atoms can possibly form (energy can never travel in circular paths else it will violate Newton’s laws). And yet, quarks, atoms, and the lot, do exist. So how did the energy generated at the Big Bang, travelling at speed of light, and in a straight line, become particulate?

My half-baked hypothesis:
I’ve got a half-baked hypothesis which I’m sure must have been examined by atomic physicists in the past, possibly decades ago, investigated, and rejected. However, I’d like to find out more about this issue from anyone who can point me in the right direction.

So I thought that what could explain the ‘circular’ shape (and I know this ‘circular’ shape is only probabilistic), is a law of physics whereby ultra high frequency energy at the Big Bang might have forced space to curve sharply – but only at the atomic level. Thereafter, that high frequency energy seemingly travels in a straight line but to us appears to travel in circles.

One can be reasonably sure that there is no reason for different laws to apply to different ‘things’ at the time of ‘creation’. All energy was necessarily the same, being a chip of ‘the same block’. Depending only on the probability of certain events (such as high energy radiation sharply bending space, and low energy radiation being unable to do so), various types of sub-atomic particles were presumably created, as well as the light and heat of the Big Bang.

Does this hypothesis make any sense? Has it been discussed in the literature? When, by whom? What was the consequence? If it is true, then do we know under what conditions energy impacts the space through which it is travelling so as to sharply bend it and create the strong atomic/nuclear force? I’d like to know the current state of knowledge on this question. Happy to be provided with references for me to read.

ADDENDUM 4 June 2009
This would mean the following:
a) Low frequency energy would travel straight for ever (visible, and the usual electromagnetic spectrum)
b) Energy that is about to reach a critical threshold would start getting “bent”, and should travel in a massive spiral shape forever, never finally collapsing into a “bubble”.
c) Energy the frequency of which exceeds a critical threshold would bend space so dramatically that it would get ‘caught’ inside a space bubble.

It would appear to me that the bending of space creates ripples in the surrounding space of two types: (a) gravitational and (b) magnetic. Both these are weak ripples, but the sum of all of them can add up considerably in large bodies.

Explaining the bonds between atoms (to form molecules):
It would seem likely that the distortions in space created by energy that has become particulate (e.g. an atom) creates a variety of opportunities for ‘bonding’ (such as ‘concavities’, which implies a kind of ‘force’ at work) that suit particular atoms better than others. Imagine a ‘cavity’ in the surrounding space of atom A that suits another atom B which can then happily ‘bond’ with A until the motion of A becomes too fast for B (as a result of heating AB, say), that the ‘slot’ created in the ‘hyperplanes’ of the two atoms split apart. I know this is getting really into the realm of fantasy, but I need to know of a single principle that will explain all atoms and all molecules. I find the depiction of the world in two parts: as matter and energy, deeply unsatisfactory. Matter is nothing but a bundle of energy bound in space, else the universe doesn’t make sense.

Note that if this perspective of the creation of atoms is even slightly true it almost certainly rules out the steady state infinite duration universe, for the creation of atoms requires an event that pumps out such huge amounts of energy, at such a large frequency and short amplitude, that it can only occur in a cataclysmic even of the Big Bang type.

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14 thoughts on “Why does energy “travel” in “circles” inside an atom?
  1. Sanjay Mehrotra

    Isn’t the circling of electrons similar to the circling of satellites? The nuclear forces pull them to the centre and they are moving at blinding speeds around the positively charged nucleus.

  2. Sanjeev

    Thanks, Sanjay. Forces travel through distortions of space (like the gravitational force). The mass of the earth distorts space and satellites which are ALWAYS travelling straight, end up going around the earth. Like a plane always flies straight but ends up going around the earth.

    Nuclear ‘force’ is ultimately, I think, a similar distortion of space, at the microscopic level. The key is that the Big Bang radiation has NEVER curved its own path. It is still travelling in a straight line, but once it reaches a sufficient frequency, it bends space (that’s what I’m suggesting) so that the nuclear force is created. The radiation has not curved, nor can it curve. It must therefore be space that has curved, and that bubble of curved space is known as matter.

    Anyway, that’s the concept I’m trying to explore.

  3. Anupam Sarwaikar

    What you are looking for is theory of everything which is combination of theory of realtivity and quantum mechanics. So far, we have failed to come up with a single theory to explain sub-atomic and quantum mechanics and related forces and the gravitational force. Black Hole is a perfect example. String theory showed some promise but not sure if it is accepted..

  4. Milind Kotwal

    Sanjeev, I had read, I dont remember exactly where, but possibly in a book written by Stephen Hawking. He has written a book I do not remeber its name correctly but it is the next book after “Brief History of Time from Big Bang To Black Holes”. I could not understand many of the concepts he has outlined in that book.

    There are multiple dimensions to space, if I remember correctly total number of dimensions mentioned are 13, we are aware about only 4 dimensions.

    Possibly the energy in subatomic particles is moving in some other curled dimension..

  5. Diva Love

    I agree with Milind Kotwal. In my understanding without getting into all reasoning right here right now, that the energy in subatomic particles is moving in more of a “Spiral” curvature just like this universe, DNA, collagen, Kundalini-etc.
    ~Flissa Mannella
    Redondo Beach, CA

  6. Sanjeev

    Dear Diva

    Thanks for your comment.

    However, in my view, nothing can move round and round in circles and not dissipate energy. Spiral galaxies appear to move in spiral paths but effectively are moving straight, even though space has curved to make it appear that they are going around the center of the galaxy.

    Therefore the “direction” of motion of energy, if such a thing is applicable, inside the atom, must be totally straight. It doesn’t make sense that some energy from the Big Bang was designed to go around in circles and other energy in a straight line.

    So curvature must be apparent, and therefore space must have got curved, not the energy, which can’t. Anyway, that’s the logic I’ve currently got. Got to read a lot.


  7. inthearmchair

    You can ask such questions at There is a very knowledgeable collection of people there who are willing to answer.

    When you speak of curved space-time, my understanding is the right word is geodesic, not “straight line”. Objects do not move in straight lines — they move along paths that minimize distance. If a photon travels from point A to point B it does so along a geodesic, not a straight line. (Not even a line that appears curved because of the curvature of space-time, if my understanding is correct.) This is why photon paths (ie light rays) bend near massive objects like the sun.

    But my understanding of all this is quite hazy; the physics forums are the best place to ask.

  8. Sanjeev Sabhlok


    My suggestion is this – that yes, space gets "warped" because of gravitational force (external force), but to the particle of light it doesn't appear to have bent in any way. The actual photon still "thinks" it is travelling in a straight line.


  9. Bhagwad Jal Park

    Actually, one of the implications of general relativity is that there is no such thing as "straight" in the first place. It's an intuitive concept for us but it doesn't really exist.
    Also, when a photon gets trapped by a black hole and is unable to escape, even it should soon realize that it's not traveling in a straight line.
    Of course, this is a meaningless question since special relativity also predicts that time accelerates on a moving frame of reference so from a photon's point of view, it reaches it's destination "instantly" no matter how many billions of years it took from the POV of anyone else.

  10. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    That’s right, Bhagwad. I’m not denying general relativity. I’m merely speculating that there could be a particular frequency (and likely speed) of a super-photon (not photon, which is constrained by the speed of light), when the concept of “straight” becomes a VERY tiny circle/sphere. At that point the energy doesn’t travel “anywhere” in particular, just goes round and round for eternity. That’s when that tiny sphere becomes a “sub-atomic particle”.

    I’m unable to think of any other way by which energy “converts” into matter. The conversion has not been explained. This is not about photons, but about the constitution of matter.

  11. Bhagwad Jal Park

    I think what you're trying to do is to use classical concepts at a quantum scale. For example, we know that what we THINK are particles are not really particles at all – an electron for example is something like a cloud of probability defined by its wave function.
    Particles don't have clearly defined boundaries and in quantum physics, the very notion of a "particle" itself disappears. When you say you cannot think of any "way" by which energy converts into matter, you're implying that you're thinking of "mechanics" or a "gears and levers" sort of thing. Those paradigms are lost at the subatomic level.

  12. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Bhagwad

    I agree that it appears I’m using classical concepts. But I’m not. That is the starting point of discussion. I’ve elaborated further (in response to similar questioning) here:

    and the follow up comment.

    Note that I’m trying (in the absence of a clear theory of matter that explains what’s “inside” sub-atomic particles) to “explain” what’s inside. And there is nothing but energy. Quantum, surely, but it is pure energy along with VERY steeply curved space, and NOT matter.


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