How can materials be waterproof or air tight if atoms don’t touch?

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How can materials be waterproof or air tight if atoms don’t touch?

In: Physics
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the same way a table is solid despite atoms never physically touching. Repulsion between the electrons of different atoms keeps them from passing through each other, despite each atom being almost all empty space.

For a material to be waterproof, it just has to prevent water molecules from passing through it.

Actually, the short answer is that they can’t. Some incredibly tiny amount of air or water will consistently leak in.

However, even if the molecules don’t touch, they are held together by electrostatic forces. Forces which prevent them from getting any closer together. These forces also prevent *other* molecules from getting closer to them. Water molecules, for instance.

Atoms do ‘touch’ in that their electron clouds interact with each other. From the perspective of water or nitrogen molecules these interacting clouds act like a solid barrier.

They do touch. The people saying that “atoms don’t touch” are missing (or are trying to point out) the fact that “touch” is a poorly defined word on atomic scales. All touching means is that there is a strong repulsion from the electric field of one object on another.

Any other definition doesn’t encompass what is generally understood as touch.

I’m going to kill whoever first said that “atoms don’t touch”. It’s such a misleading idea that confuses literally everyone. Electrons can’t touch each other because the concept of “touching” doesn’t make sense at quantum scales.

Atoms interact with each other via their electron clouds. That’s what you’re thinking of when you say something is touching something else.