1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Electron 'mass'

  1. Feb 17, 2016 #1
    Electrons have a theoretical rest mass. They can move at varying speeds through space, unlike photons. They ehxhibit quantum-characteristics in their behavior. If an electron collides with, say, an atom, does conservation of momentum apply in the classical sense or does measurable mass (an atom nucleus) evade this effect, and the energy exchange is effected only in the directly unmeasurable way, in this instance for example electron-electron momentum change (among other effects)?

    In case I ask it too vaguely, if you fire electron plasma towards an atom in a void, does the atom get blasted out of the jet's way, or is its movement in space left unperturbed? Turn this around, should the electron emitter experience recoil thrust from firing the plasma?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 17, 2016 #2

    A. Neumaier

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Everything you say can be treated essentially classically, except that one may perhaps have to add small quantum corrections. The quantum behavior starts to begin nontrivially only when the electrons is or can be bound in the process.
  4. Feb 17, 2016 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    There's nothing special about electrons in this regard. Shoot a beam of anything, including light, and you will have recoil. Conservation of momentum is one of the most important and general laws.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook