JuxtapositionQMan wrote:I don't, but here's how I understand it: subatomic particles control the properties & motion of atoms.
Subatomic particles do control the properties of atoms, in that the right kind of subatomic particles have to be present in the right quantities for the atom to exist. The properties of those subatomic particles can change without effecting the atom though (except in certain cases - see below).
Consider an atom of helium-4, which consists of two protons, two neutrons, and two electrons. A proton is made of three quarks; two of these are up quarks, and one is a down quark. A neutron is also made of three quarks; one up quark, and two down quarks. The electron is itself an elementary particle.
These elementary particles can have a number of different properties. Some of these (like flavour for quarks) determine the larger particle made by their interactions, some are irrelevant at the scale of protons and neutrons. For quarks, these properties are flavour, electric charge, colour, and a few others that don't matter here. For electrons the only properties we'll consider are spin and energy level.
For quarks, flavour is probably the most important property in relation to atoms. Most of the other properties are a function of flavour. For example, the electric charge of an up quark is +⅔, while the electric charge of a down quark is −⅓. As such, a proton must consist of two up quarks and one down quark, and a neutron must consist of one up quark and two down quarks. For both the total colour charge of the quarks must also be 0, but this happens as a function of the interaction that allows the quarks to bond to make the larger particles anyway. Within a proton or neutron, the quarks may undergo a change in colour charge, which will cause the other quarks to also change colour to maintain a net charge of 0; however, this will have no effect on the neutron/proton being a neutron/proton, and therefore no effect on the atom.
In certain cases a quark can change flavour. The only time this is noticeable normally is in β decay, where a neutron decays to form a proton. In order for this to happen, one of the down quarks in the neutron has to become an up quark. This is mediated by the weak force, and involves the emitting of a W boson, which then decays. The boson, and products of the boson decay depend on the type of β decay; for β⁻ decay the boson emitted is a W⁻ boson, and the decay products are an electron and an electron antineutrino; and for β⁺ decay the boson emitted is a W⁺ boson, and the decay products are a positron and an electron neutrino.
For an electron, the spin can change direction (but not magnitude), which isn't noticeable to the atom at all, and energy level. Energy level is increased by absorption of a photon, and decreased by emission of a photon. In single atoms the most obvious effect of electrons having higher energy states is the wavelength of the photon emitted to decrease the energy level. For atomic bonds, the bonds tend to stabilise electron energy levels (i.e. make them as close to the ground level as possible).
For motion, the forces binding the subatomic particles together are quite strong, and so the individual motions of the particles can't normally overcome these forces in most atoms (radioactive elements and isotopes are the exception). Breaking these bonds releases a lot of energy, as can be seen with nuclear fission.
As an interesting note on how subatomic particles affect atoms: Helium-4 is normally chemically inert, it doesn't want to lose or gain an electron to form an ion, nor does it need to share electrons to fill the valence shell. It's possible to remove one of these electrons and replace it with a muon, which makes it behave like an isotope of hydrogen, which will bond with another hydrogen to again have a filled valence shell (or indeed would form any of the bonds hydrogen does, He₂O would be an interesting thing to see), despite this actually then giving the system a net electric charge of −1. This hasn't ever actually been observed to occur in nature I believe, so it's not particularly relevant now.
Atoms determine the properties of molecules, and atoms' movement determines the movement of molecules.
As above, but essentially just up a scale. All isotopes of an element will essentially form the same chemical bonds, and therefore the same molecules, and so if a neutron or two were to disappear or appear (except in cases of radioactive decay), and an isotope of an element were to replace another isotope of the same element, the chemical bond wouldn't change, and therefore the molecule wouldn't. Spontaneous neutron (dis-)appearance doesn't exactly happen in nature though.
Again, the bonds within a molecule are quite strong, and the normal motions of atoms won't overcome them without other factors.
Molecules' properties & movement determine the properties & movement of materials (movement to a lesser extent, but if all the molecules in something move upwards, it moves upwards).
And again the same as above, just up another scale again. With the motion, some external force needs to act on the material, the molecules will never all move in the same way in absence of such a force.
Probability is the number of successes vs. outcomes, so, for example, the probability of a floor mat moving 3ft. off the ground is the same as the probability of all its molecules moving 3ft. upward, which is the same as all the molecules' atoms moving upward, which is the same as all the subatomic paricles moving upward, which is governed by quantum mechanics.
The probability of all subatomic particles in a material moving upward simultaneously is nil in the absence of an external force. In the case of your floor mat moving 3 ft. off the ground, the probability is equal to the sum of the probabilities of all external factors capable of inducing such a change doing so. If the only external factor around is you, and you have no intention of going near that mat, then the probability will be essentially 0, the molecules, atoms, and particles are absolutely irrelevant.