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Do electrons exist?

  1. Nov 20, 2004 #1
    I've seen one guy claim there's no such thing as electrons. Not wanting to disbelieve my physics textbooks, can anyone help me here?

  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 20, 2004 #2


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    Who was that guy anyhow? Bad assumptions and faulty logic make for bad conclusions. :-)
  4. Nov 21, 2004 #3


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    Sigh... here we go again. For future reference, please note that the Internet and the world are full of crackpots who think they are smarter than any physicist alive, and refrain from even considering their arguments if they are trying to rewrite physics that has been known for 100 years.

    Addressing the specific issues:

    1) First, an antenna does not have zero resistance, and currents are induced on one. Second, even in a conductor it is possible to separate charge by applying an electric field.

    2) There is no difference in the atoms. The skin effect is a result of Maxwell's equations. See here for an explanation and derivation.

    3) This is an incorrect picture of the way a battery operates. In a closed circuit, electrons move because of potential differences. The internal chemistry of the battery is what sets up this difference across its terminals. When the scenario he describes is created, there is no closed circuit. If electrons were to move in the described manner, the resulting electric field from the separation of charges would quickly balance out the low chemical potential difference with negligible net transfer.

    4) All batteries have internal resistance, some lower than others. Not to mention that tihs internal resistance is strictly an outcome of the battery's chemistry.

    No electrons, that's a good one. Perhaps he can explain how his monitor works?
  5. Dec 11, 2004 #4
    For the record I agree with you (I'm usually apt to trust my physics textbook), but for the sake of scientific curiosity, learning and dialogue, I'll post the person's response.

  6. Dec 12, 2004 #5
    his extensive use of "his bull****" and his continual bashing of anti-crank is already unscientific in itself.
  7. Dec 12, 2004 #6


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    "If that were true, connecting the positive pole of one battery to the negative pole of another battery would cause current to flow, but in the real world it doesn't."

    Yes it does.

    This guy is just spouting off. No need to dignify his ignorance with a rebuttal, just tell him to pick up a introductory book on the subject before thinking he has an opinion on it.
  8. Dec 12, 2004 #7


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    Basically that guy missed a course called "General Physics 2" which deals with Electricity, Magnetism, Flux, Fields, Capacitors, Waves, etc etc etc.
  9. Dec 12, 2004 #8
    Electrons only "probably" exist! :rofl:
  10. Dec 12, 2004 #9
    When someone makes claims like this its due to a poor understanding of the physics involved. People like this usually think that they're the only ones in the universe to have considered these questions or that if they can't figure it out then it can't be figured out. It can prove a useful exercise to address these things to some extent so as to solify the concepts in your own mind. But at one point you need to not bother anymore.

    It's pretty interesting how he thinks this contradicts electron theory whereas one uses the notion of charge to make these predictions. Notice that his arguement does not address whether electrons exist, but whether charge itself exists and the properties of charge etc.

    A standing wave on a conductor for which the energy flow is parallel tothe x-axis means that the fields are of the form

    E = E0(y,z)cos[itex]\omega t[/itex] sin [itex]\beta x[/itex]j

    The field is not really inside the wire, its outside for the most part. There is a surface charge density which is not static and charge is shuffled back and forth resulting in a finite surface current. Your friend has the wrong idea of what a standing wave is. He probably thinks that a standing wave is time independant when it really isn't.
    There is nothing different about the atoms. There is everything different about the location of the atoms. The atoms at the outer layers are subjected to the electric field which impinges on the conductor form an EM wave that impinges on it. The deeper the wave penetrates into the conductor the more the wave is atenuated due to the charges rearranging themselves due to the electric field. Very hard to explain in words. That's why we have equations. :biggrin:
    Its easier to answer this in terms of capacitors since batteries require an understanding of chemistry and this is physics. Therefore take as an example two identical capacitors with identical charge on them; Let the negative pole of one cap be connected to the positive pole of another cap. Current will flow in order to balance out the charges between the plates in order to reduce the net charge to zero. The charges will then rearrange themselves on the conductor and the surface charge density of the conductors will not be zero, although the total charge will be equal to zero.
    Invalid claim. NiCad batteries have extremely low internal resistance, not zero internal resistance.
    Invalid assumption. We don't know that the size of an electron is zero. We just can't measure the size its so small. Classically the electron does have a radius. Quantum mechanics is a different theory made to fill in the inadequacies of classical theory so I'm sure quantum field theory has more to say on this point.

    Re - infinite energy of point charge - I've never liked that idea. Consider where this notion comes from. The energy in an electric field is defined as the potential energy of the charge configuration which is equal to the work done to construct the charge configuration from charges which start out at infinity. But a point charge is not something which is assembled. Consider the derivation of the relation for energy and energy density in such a field. One starts out with the discrete case and takes a limit. The discrete case starts off with a single charge and the energy of the configuration is taken to be zero - by definition. One then brings charges in from infinity to finite distances from each other charge already there. One then obtains a relationship for a number of charges etc. One then assumes that the value of each charge goes to zero while the number of each charge goes to infinity - an unreal assumption with finite point charges - i.e. electrons.
    Clearly an unfounded claim. He seems to have the idea that if he writes/says something then it is automatically true. I think not. Batteries which are, say, lighting a bulb do have an internal current in them.
    This statement is quite unclear. What is he talking about? If I model the internal resistance of a battery with a parallel resistor (which is how its done actually) then current flows when a load is attached. The internal resistance remains unchanged but the external resistance will depend on what is attached, i.e. will depend on what the battery is powering. The voltage of the ideal battery is constant but the voltage of the real battery will decrease with increase in current.
    Tell the crank that he's wrong.

    I bet he'd love the book There Are No Electrons by Kenn Amdahl :rofl:

    Last edited: Dec 12, 2004
  11. Dec 12, 2004 #10
    Don't forget about the results of Millikan's oil-drop experiment. How would he explain the observation that every single amount of charge ever observed is a multiple of 1.6 x 10^-19 C?
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2004
  12. Dec 12, 2004 #11
    Lord only knows.

    Its not clear that he accepts the notion of charge - period. Almost all of his comments do not refer to electrons, they refer to charge.

  13. Dec 13, 2004 #12


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    He has still not explained how his monitor works; or more to the point how a CRT works. But since he has decided to bring out the insults, there is no point in arguing further. Have a look here for ideas if you care to continue the conversation on such terms. Officially, however, I suggest disengaging while not conceding anything. For my part, I have my hands full with keeping a watchful eye here and minding certain projects outside PF to debate an off-site crank.

    Edit: I do feel compelled to add that this crank knows as little chemistry as physics. I have personally conducted a water electrolysis experiment by running a current through (very diluted) sulfuric acid. I make nu illusions, however, that he will understand redox potentials or chemical reaction rates more than he understands batteries.
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2004
  14. Dec 16, 2004 #13
    Yeah, Theres a physics teacher who says there are no electrons in our school: the idea being they are just concentrated energy. Under that philosophy, every thing is just radiation, in different forms. Actually, I've seen physics defined as "radiation and the study of it's forms and interactions between these forms".
  15. Dec 16, 2004 #14


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    Haven't read what people have had to say so far, but it looks like the OP is questioning the existence of electrons.

    The simple answer would involve a CRT or thermionic cell or a photovoltaic cell, but I can imagine objections to these too.

    So, I'll leave you (OP) with the following two examples that you may google at your convenience :

    1) SETs : single electron transistors

    2) MRFM detection of single electron spin by Rugar, et al at IBM-Almaden (just a few months ago).
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