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How do I get energy from a perpetually moving electron?

  1. Feb 16, 2014 #1
    From what I understand, an atom generates an electromagnetic field which exerts energy on objects and this electromagnetic field is from an electron in perpetual motion around the atom...? thats probably the problem. its not in perpetual motion is it? what happens to electrons when they exert energy?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 16, 2014 #2


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    It's not in perpetual motion in the classical sense. The behavior of electrons orbiting atoms is best described by quantum mechanics.
    If an electron radiates energy away to another atom, the conservation law of energy still holds, so the energy of the electron goes down by the amount of the energy of the photon. The electron's energy can only go down so far, at which point it is in a state of minimum energy called the ground state. In the ground state, an electron cannot radiate any energy away. It is not stationary, though, since the uncertainty principle prevents an electron from being at one location at rest.
  4. Feb 16, 2014 #3
    If the electron obeyed classical mechanics then it would indeed lose energy as EM radiation, and would therefore spiral into the nucleus. But as jfizz said, the rules of quantum mechanics applies to the electron, and it remains "in orbit".

    To keep away from quantum mechanics, when doing basic EM, stick to objects much larger than an atom. For instance, if a negatively charged satellite was orbiting a positively charged mother ship it would indeed radiate away energy and crash into the mother ship.
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