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Electric Charge Vs Electron

  1. May 19, 2007 #1


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    I'm currently doing electricity in my high school physics. What is the difference between 'negative electric charges' and 'electrons'?:confused:
  2. jcsd
  3. May 19, 2007 #2
    I suppose they are the same thing. Electrons are the smallest unit of (negative) electric charge.
  4. May 19, 2007 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    The material things around us are made of atoms. Atoms have a positively charged nucleus (the proton by convention has a positive charge), and the nucleus is surrounded by negatively charged electrons. Electrons are the mobile charges.

    When we talk about negative charge, this really refers to electrons as Repetit mentioned. When one refers to a positive charges, in reality it means there is a lack of electrons. Natures tries to remain electrically neutral.

    One can encounter positive charges, e.g. a free proton or ion, which one might encounter in atomic or nuclear physics, or in chemistry problems.

    There are also positively charged electrons (positrons), but they occur under special conditions and do not survive very long.

    However, when it comes to electricity/electronics, the negative charges are the electrons, and currents almost always refer to the movement of electrons. The current is always oppositve the motion of the electrons, because someone in the past decided that the direction of the current should be in the direction of 'positive' charges. I found that terribly confusing when I first learned about electricity.
  5. May 20, 2007 #4
    "Negative electric charges" is a rather more general category than "electrons." A particle with negative electric charge is anything that is electrically repelled by an electron. This includes other electrons, muons, taus, antiprotons, cascade minuses, pi minuses, and a whole host of others sorts of particles. However, the only stable particles with negative charge are electrons and antiprotons. All the others will decay into electrons or antiprotons plus uncharged particles.
  6. May 20, 2007 #5


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    If I remember my history correctly, I think you can thank Ben Franklin for that...
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