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Do electron attract proton, or proton attract electron?

  1. Sep 30, 2009 #1


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    I know they are strongly attract each other, but which one will attract first?
    is it depend on the mass of proton and electron? if yes, then it would be electron attract to the proton, am I right?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 30, 2009 #2


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    Recall Newton's thrid law of motion. If a proton attracts an electron , than the electron exerts an attractive force on the proton of exactly the same strength.

    Now, the effect of the force (i.e. acceleration) will be different because the proton is much more massive than an electron. But the attractive forces are equal and opposite.
  4. Sep 30, 2009 #3
    The attractive forces are equal, opposite, and simultaneous. An often misquoted version of Newton's third law is that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This implies that the attractions are not simultaneous, which they are. Neither the proton nor the electron will exert a force "before" the other.
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