Helium Made to Mimic Hydrogen and High-Pitched Voices

Physicists made a helium atom act like a hydrogen atom, and the geeks at Slashdot figure out how much the new helium atom would affect the pitch of your voice in comparison to a normal helium atom.

Folksonomies: physics geekiness geeking out fun nerd

How to Disguise a Helium Atom as a Hydrogen Atom

Donald Fleming of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and colleagues managed to disguise a helium atom as a hydrogen atom byreplacing one of its orbiting electrons with a muon, which is far heavier than an electron.

Because it is so heavy, the muon sits 200 times closer to the helium nucleus than the electron it replaces and cancels out one of the nucleus\'s positive charges. The remaining electron then behaves as if it were orbiting a nucleus with just one positive charge, just like the electron in a hydrogen atom. The difference is that the nucleus is 4.1 times heavier than normal.


Neat experiment that allowed a Helium atom to act like a hydrogen one.

Folksonomies: science physics atom atomic chemistry

Cause and Effect

How Much Would a Heavier Helium Atom Affect the Pitch of Your Voice?

Cyko_01: does it make your voice go higher or lower when inhaled?

Menkhaf: I guess it was a joke, but it should be rather simple to determine: if the gas if lighter than the atmosphere you\'re breathing, your voice will be lighter if you inhale this.

sploxx: To be more specific, the molecular weight of normal He to He with one muon attached is roughly 4.1/4.0. The change in pitch relative to breathing He should be the square root of that ratio, which is a change of about 1.2%. For someone with absolute pitch, it may be possible to hear the difference of tone of a musical instrument. But I doubt anyone will hear a difference when a person speaks.


If inhaled, how much would a helium atom altered to have a heavier muon substituted in place of an electron to resemble hydrogen affect the pitch of your voice?

Folksonomies: physics geekiness geeking out geek nerd