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Particle charge quesiton

  1. Dec 9, 2008 #1
    What physical property of a particle determines its charge polarity. For example, with an electron and positron, what makes an electrons (-) and what makes a positron (+). Is there an observable difference that explains this (other than they attract each other and annihilate)?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 9, 2008 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    It's convention. Benjamin Franklin decided it. We could have chosen the reverse convention.
     
  4. Dec 9, 2008 #3
    But is there a physical attribute of the particle that makes it - or +?
     
  5. Dec 9, 2008 #4

    tiny-tim

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    "other than they attract each other" … noooo :wink:

    As Vanadium 50 :smile: says, it's convention.
     
  6. Dec 9, 2008 #5
    This sounds comparable to people trying to figure out why colors are "colorful" before anyone knew about light wavelength.
     
  7. Dec 10, 2008 #6

    tiny-tim

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    No, because comparative length of wavelength is not arbitrary … everyone must regard red light as having longer wavelength than blue light.

    But it's entirely arbitrary whether we call electrons positive or negative.
     
  8. Dec 11, 2008 #7
    I understand the electron and positron appear to be the exact same thing when observed, but one has a + charge and the other has a - negative charge by convention.

    I was just asking if there was a possibility an electron/positron have a physical property that gives them their charge polarity. Is it possible? or no?
     
  9. Dec 11, 2008 #8

    Vanadium 50

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    The physical property is "charge". The sign assignment is convention.
     
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