# Does it make a sense to speak about age of electron or atom?

It's possible that this question is too soft or even quite senseless for this forum, but I will ask nevertheless.

Everyday (macroscopic) things, like a grandfather's pendulum clock or the grandfather himself have age, which can be determined in several (not independent) ways:

1, testimony of birth - when a child is born or clock made, someone makes a dated record of this event and archives it. This is useless, however, if we are not sure that the examined person is identical with the recorded one (in other words that the birth record or identity card is his). Since electrons (or atoms) are indistinguishable particles, this method cannot be used.

2, signs of aging - as clock or man age, various irreversible changes accumulate, and it is possible at least estimate their age. We can measure state of electron or atom, but it doesn't make sense to speak of how long ago the state (like excitation) has been changed.

3, historical style period - pendulum clocks made in the 18th century look different from those made in 2013 (and there are no pendulum clocks made before Christiaan Huygens). Electron or atom created in glacial period or Triassic are the same as those created a while ago.

Does it make a sense to speak about age of electron or atom?

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No. It doesn't make sense to speak of the source either: physics.stackexchange.com/questions/61175/were-all-star-dust –  Brandon Enright May 4 '13 at 20:57

The fact that electrons are identical particles doesn't mean you can't separate one from another and keep track of which is which. They can be told apart according to their positions, energies, and momenta. Say I stick a $\beta^-$ source a foot away from a Geiger counter and I get a click. I know that the electron I detected was 1 ns old (c=1 ft/ns). This one was differentiated from the other nearby ones by its MeV energy.