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Re: intermolecular forces

On February 11, John Denker was kind enough to respond to certain PHYS-L
assertions regarding chemical bonding. As usual, his insights were deep.

He wrote, in part: "The repulsive [intermolecular] force has to do with
kinetic energy, and it's not electrostatic. Think of an uncharged particle
in a box. As you decrease the size of the box, the wavefunctions get more
wiggles per unit length, so their kinetic energy goes up. This causes a
repulsive force, i.e. a pressure on the piston."

I understand what John has said, here. However, I'd sure appreciate
further clarification of a few ideas. Here goes:

Should we really think of (certain) quantum mechanical rules as forces?
For example, does the Pauli exclusion principle describe a true "force"?
[Astronomers say that such a force is able to counteract gravity and
temporarily prevent the collapse of white dwarf stars, no?] Accordingly,
when we speak of the "four forces of nature," are we speaking only of the
non-quantum world?

Thanks for your consideration,

- Tucker

Tucker Hiatt, Director
Wonderfest 2001
P.O. Box 887
(39 Fernhill Avenue)
Ross, CA 94957
415-713-5895 (voice)
415-454-2535 (fax)

"Truth is a great flirt." - Franz Liszt