The four basic waveforms

The Sound of Protons, Neutrons and Electrons

Now it’s time to illustratre an atom in the world of music. We begin with the particles in the nucleus:

Weight or mass is something I usually paint musically with loudeness and pitch. Since the proton and neutron have about the same mass, I need to find some other musical parameter to differentiate them with. Why not use “timbre”.

A proton is a subatomic particle with a positive electric charge. Of the four basic waveforms, sine, square, triangle and saw, I represent it by a square wave.

The neutron has no electric charge; so to give it a dull, soft character, I let it be represented by a sine wave.

The electron has a negative charge making it suitable to be represented by the “acid squeaking” saw wave.

The quark structure of a proton
The quark structure of a proton

To give my protons and neutrons yet some more individual characteristics, I make use of the even smaller elements of matter they are built of: quarks.

While the proton is composed of three fundamental particles: one down quark and two up quarks, the neutron consists of one up quark and two down quarks. This gives us the patterns: [duu] and [udd]. Furthermore the down quarks are heavier than the up quarks which I represent by letting them play at different frequencies, one octave apart.

So here they are, the first sounds of a proton and a neutron. Click to play:

 

Scoring a proton
Scoring a proton
Scoring a neutron
Scoring a neutron

The electrons are usually orbiting around the nucleus in a cloud-like appearance, which in my somewhat poetic interpretation sounds like this:

 

My electron cloud is not completely a product of fantasy, I have arranged the shimmering eighty notes corresponding to eighty electrons in the mercury atom accordingly to to the six electron shells of this atom.