wavefunctions are theoretical. So be a bit careful using terms such as "what they really look like" because in truth, we suspect they look as indicated by mathematically derived functions. In fact, we do not know. This is how we get into trouble by saying things like, the multiverse theory. Which is not a theory, as it has no data to explain or model. Restated: it isnt science. It might be science fiction. But not emprical science.
Well said, Anonymous. We must beware of substituting one illustration for another. Our natural experience is to see desks, trees and cars and so we tend to imagine that atoms are some sort of smaller thing. But they are likely to remain a mystery as they are a different order of 'being'. We will probably be limited to describing them by their effects.
Well, for what you know, Antarctica is theoretical. I take it for granted you have never been there. Pluto is certainly theoretical, as far as you are concerned. At a certain point, though, skepticism is on its way to cynicism, and you're dancing close to that already. On the other hand, "what (individual) atoms look like" is ... they look like invisible. They are individually too small to interact with light in familiar ways; they can only absorb photons of certain wavelengths and re-emit photons at certain wavelengths. Graphing wave functions is potentially useful, but only if you understand what they mean. Not many people do.
An atom e-