Positron to replace proton as the nucleus of an atom

1. Aug 28, 2014

jaydnul

I know that the positron and electron have the same mass, which allows them to annihilate, and I know how solve the 2 body Schrodinger for a standard hydrogen atom to get the orbitals.

My question is why the math works out the way it does. Is there an "intuitive" (I use that word cautiously) quantum mechanical explanation as to why the masses have to be the same in order to annihilate and why the electron will keep its distance if the nucleus' mass is different? Why don't the proton and electron annihilate and just produce enough radiation to make up for the differences in mass/energy?

Thanks

2. Aug 28, 2014

Staff: Mentor

In order to annihilate conservation laws need to be observed.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electron–positron_annihilation

A proton is a Baryon and the electron a Lepton. Both Baryon and Lepton numbers must be conserved.

But the most fundamental reason is probably that positrons and electrons are excitations of the same underlying field. Quantum Field Theory (QFT) isn't an area I know well off the top of my head, but if I recall correctly the creation operator of an electron is the same as the annihilation operator of a positron, and conversely - also when applied to each other creation and annihilation give a big fat nothing. So each destroying the other is the same as nothing overall being created and destroyed.

But I may be corrected on that by those those that know QFT better.

Thanks
Bill

Last edited: Aug 29, 2014
3. Aug 29, 2014

tom.stoer

you mean that "the most fundamental reason is probably that positrons and electrons are excitations of the same underlying field."

Last edited: Aug 29, 2014
4. Aug 29, 2014

tom.stoer

it's slightly more complicated that that, but in essence electrons and positrons are quanta of the same underlying field, whereas protons (consisting of quarks and gluons) are related to other fields

5. Aug 29, 2014

Staff: Mentor

:tongue::tongue::tongue::tongue:

You caught me out - now corrected.

Thanks
Bill