Questions tagged [electrons]

Negatively charged particle with spin 1/2. A component of mundane terrestrial matter, and part of all neutral atoms and molecules. It has a mass about 1/1800 that of a proton. Its antiparticle is the positron.

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Why don't electrons crash into the nuclei they "orbit"?

I'm having trouble understanding the simple "planetary" model of the atom that I'm being taught in my basic chemistry course. In particular, I can't see how a negatively charged electron can stay ...
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Why doesn't matter pass through other matter if atoms are 99.999% empty space?

The ghostly passage of one body through another is obviously out of the question if the continuum assumption were valid, but we know that at the micro, nano, pico levels (and beyond) this is not even ...
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4 answers
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Why do electrons, according to my textbook, exist forever?

Does that mean that electrons are infinitely stable? The neutrinos of the three leptons are also listed as having a mean lifespan of infinity.
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Why is the charge naming convention wrong?

I recently came to know about the Conventional Current vs. Electron Flow issue. Doing some search I found that the reason for this is that Benjamin Franklin made a mistake when naming positive and ...
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70 votes
7 answers
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Why are protons heavier than electrons?

Our teacher told us that protons are nearly 1800 times heavier than electrons. Is there any known reason as to why this is so? Or is this just an empirical value, one we do not know the reason to?
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59 votes
5 answers
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Why do electron and proton have the same but opposite electric charge?

What is the explanation between equality of proton and electron charges (up to a sign)? This is connected to the gauge invariance and renormalization of charge is connected to the renormalization of ...
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58 votes
7 answers
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Do electrons have shape?

According to the Wikipedia page on the electron: The electron has no known substructure. Hence, it is defined or assumed to be a point particle with a point charge and no spatial extent. Does ...
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52 votes
4 answers
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Why do electrons occupy the space around nuclei, and not collide with them? [duplicate]

We all learn in grade school that electrons are negatively-charged particles that inhabit the space around the nucleus of an atom, that protons are positively-charged and are embedded within the ...
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4 answers
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How can an object absorb so many wavelengths, if their energies must match an energy level transition of an electron?

I believe I have a misunderstanding of some principles, but I have not, even through quite a bit of research, been able to understand this problem. My current understanding of transmission, ...
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49 votes
4 answers
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What is the mass density distribution of an electron?

I am wondering if the mass density profile $\rho(\vec{r})$ has been characterized for atomic particles such as quarks and electrons. I am currently taking an intro class in quantum mechanics, and I ...
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44 votes
8 answers
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Why doesn't an electron ever hit (and stick on) a proton?

Imagine there is a proton confined in a box and we put an electron at 10 cm distance: It gets an acceleration of thousands of meters/second^2 along a straight line joining the two CM's. One would ...
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43 votes
10 answers
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Why can atoms only gain or lose electrons and not protons?

I know that an object can become net negative or net positive by losing or gaining electrons, and having more or fewer protons than electrons but why can't protons be transferred too?
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42 votes
5 answers
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Do electrons really perform instantaneous quantum leaps?

This is not a duplicate, non of the answers gives a clear answer and most of the answers contradict. There are so many questions about this and so many answers, but none of them says clearly if the ...
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41 votes
4 answers
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Why isn't the universe full of electrons?

The probability of an electron found outside the atom is never zero. Consider building an electron detector, it must receive permanent signals from all electrons in the universe, as they can exist ...
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39 votes
4 answers
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How fast do electrons travel in an atomic orbital?

I am wondering how fast electrons travel inside of atomic electron orbitals. Surely there is a range of speeds? Is there a minimum speed? I am not asking about electron movement through a conductor.
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37 votes
6 answers
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What is the probability for an electron of an atom on Earth to lie outside the galaxy?

In this youtube video it is claimed that electrons orbit their atom's nucleus not in well-known fixed orbits, but within "clouds of probability", i.e., spaces around the nucleus where they can lie ...
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37 votes
9 answers
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How can a photon collide with an electron?

Whenever I study the photoelectric effect and the Compton effect, I have always had a question about how a photon can possibly collide with an electron given their unmeasureably small size. Every ...
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3 answers
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Could a powerful gravitational wave cause electrons to emit light?

I imagine electrons being accelerated by passing gravitational waves, say from a nearby kilonova, so I would expect the electrons to emit light. Am I right?
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6 answers
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Can a balloon be inflated with electrons?

If I use a Van De Graff generator to pump electrons into a deflated balloon, eventually negative charge will start to build up inside the balloon. Assume the mouth of the balloon is sealed so air ...
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35 votes
8 answers
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Is electricity really the flow of electrons or is it more involved?

I am new to the physics category of the Stack Exchange site. I apologize if my question is wrong, too broad, simple, or worded incorrectly. I am just trying to figure out what is true and false when ...
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33 votes
5 answers
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How is data transferred between devices?

If you send a text from your phone to your friend, do electrons move from your phone to your friend's phone? How is text transferred (physics wise)? I am a programmer and I want to know how it is ...
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33 votes
6 answers
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Where are the inaccuracies in the Bohr model of the atom?

The Bohr model of the atom is essentially that the nucleus is a ball and the electrons are balls orbiting the nucleus in a rigid orbit. This allowed for chemists to find a model of chemical bonding ...
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33 votes
4 answers
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How do electrons know which path to take in a circuit?

The current is maximum through those segments of a circuit that offer the least resistance. But how do electrons know beforehand that which path will resist their drift the least?
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33 votes
3 answers
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How does electricity propagate in a conductor?

On a systems level, I understand that as electrons are pushed into a wire, there is a net field and a net electron velocity. And I've read that the net electron drift is slow. But electricity ...
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31 votes
6 answers
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Where is the evidence that the electron is pointlike?

I'm writing a piece about the electron, and I'm having trouble finding evidence to back up the claim that the evidence is pointlike. People tend to say the observation of a single electron in a ...
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29 votes
5 answers
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Photoelectricity in daily life

Photons strike metals innumerable times in our day-to-day experience.Then, why photoelectrons do not come out of metal surface and cause current?
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28 votes
8 answers
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Why doesn't an electron rip itself apart?

A proton is stable because of the strong force between quarks, which is not there in electron. So what's the reason for electron's stability?
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28 votes
3 answers
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Can neutrinos "hit" electrons?

I understand that particles interact via the fundamentals forces of nature. For example photons interact with matter because they carry the change in the electromagnetic field. Neutrinos, on the other ...
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4 answers
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If free electrons have classical trajectories, then why don't bound electrons around the nuclei have it too?

I have read this question: Changes to chemical properties of elements due to relativistic effects are more pronounced for the heavier elements in the periodic table because in these elements, ...
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28 votes
6 answers
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Speed of electrons in a current-carrying metallic wire: does it even make sense?

Does it make sense to speak about the speed of electrons in a current-carrying wire (non perfect conductor)? If so, what is their speed? Here are my thoughts: On the Internet (Wikipedia, ...
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28 votes
5 answers
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Classical proof of the gyromagnetic ratio $g=2$

I was reading Representing Electrons: A Biographical Approach to Theoretical Entities, by Theodore Arabatzis. At a certain point, where he is explaining the history of the magnetic moment of the ...
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26 votes
5 answers
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Are protons bigger than electrons?

In every text/ physics book that I've read, Protons are mentioned as particles that are bigger, way bigger 2000 times to be precise, than electrons...I believed that until a few minutes ago when I ...
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26 votes
5 answers
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Why do electrons fall from a high excitation to a lower one?

If when you shine a photon into an atom for example, and this excites an electron to a higher energy level, do the electron(s) keep going higher the more light you shine, and is there an energy limit, ...
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26 votes
7 answers
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Why can't an electron be observed?

I was watching a show on Netflix hosted by Neil Degrasse Tyson and he mentioned that one of the fundamental particles that we know of, the electron, is something we have never even observed directly. ...
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25 votes
5 answers
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Can you please show me a final atomic model which demonstrates movement of electrons inside it? [closed]

Is there any final model of an atom, of which we can say, “This is it”! Or is it still improving and physicists are not completely sure about it? I am particularly interested to know how exactly ...
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25 votes
3 answers
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Why is an electron still an elementary particle after absorbing / emitting a photon?

When an electron absorbs a photon, does the photon become electron "stuff" (energy); or, is it contained within the electron as a discrete "something"?
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25 votes
3 answers
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What happens in electron-electron collisions?

What are the results of high energy electron electron collisions? Are other particles created?
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24 votes
8 answers
7k views

If electrons can be created and destroyed, then why can't charges be created or destroyed? [duplicate]

I read on Wikipedia that electrons can be created through beta decay of radioactive isotopes and in high-energy collisions, for instance when cosmic rays enter the atmosphere. Also, that they can be ...
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24 votes
4 answers
7k views

Why is every electron in the universe not entangled with every other electron?

According to the principles of identical particles, the wavefunction of a collection of fermions must be antisymmetric and such a state is entangled. Doesn't this mean that any given electron in the ...
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23 votes
7 answers
7k views

Is it wrong to say that an electron can be a wave?

In QM it is sometimes said that electrons are not waves but they behave like waves or that waves are a property of electrons. Perhaps it is better to speak of a wave function representing a particular ...
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23 votes
5 answers
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Why don't free electrons escape from a conductor?

The thermal velocity of the free electron in a metallic conductor varies from $10^5\ \mathrm{m/s}$ to $10^6\ \mathrm{m/s}$. In spite of high velocity, free electrons fail to escape from the metallic ...
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23 votes
7 answers
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Are voltages discrete when we zoom in enough?

Voltages are often thought of as continuous physical quantities. I was wondering whether by zooming in a lot, they are discrete. I feel like the answer to the above question is yes as voltages in the ...
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23 votes
2 answers
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Are all electrons identical?

Why should two sub-atomic (or elementary particle) - say electrons need to have identical static properties - identical mass, identical charge? Why can't they differ between each other by a very ...
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23 votes
2 answers
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Is there experimental verification of the s, p, d, f orbital shapes?

Have there been any experiments performed (or proposed) to prove that the shapes of the s,p,d,f orbitals correspond to our spatial reality as opposed to just being a figment of the mathematics that ...
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23 votes
6 answers
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How do electrons "know" to share their voltage between two resistors?

My physics teacher explained the difference between voltage and current using sandwiches. Each person gets a bag full of sandwiches when they pass through the battery. Current = the number of people ...
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22 votes
3 answers
4k views

Proton: 2 up, 1 down quark, Neutron: 2 down, 1 up, how can Neutron: proton + electron?

I imagine that there is a pretty simple answer to my question, but I have just never gotten it straight. If a proton is comprised of two up quarks and a down, and neutrons are comprised of two down ...
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22 votes
1 answer
1k views

How did we know that the Dirac equation describes the electron but not the proton?

I'm suddenly getting confused on what should be a very simple point. Recall that the $g$-factor of a particle is defined as $$\mu = \frac{ge}{2m} L$$ where $L$ is the spin angular momentum. For any ...
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21 votes
4 answers
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Why doesn't the LHC accelerate electrons?

Electrons have a much bigger charge density as the protons (and especially lead nuclei), aren't compound particles as the protons (and especially lead nuclei) are able to get a much bigger energy ...
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21 votes
2 answers
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Why doesn't orbital electron fall into the nucleus of Rb85, but falls into the nucleus of Rb83?

Rb83 is unstable and decays to Kr-83. Mode of decay is electron capture. Rb85 is stable. The nuclei Rb83 and Rb85 have the same charge, but Rb85 is heavier than Rb83. While gravity acts more strongly ...
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21 votes
2 answers
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How are cloud chamber tracks consistent with the uncertainty principle?

I have read about the uncertainty principle. As it applies to electrons, how is it that we can get exact tracks of electrons in cloud chambers? That is to say that how is it that the position is fixed?...
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