# What exactly is an electron?

Drakkith
Staff Emeritus
Yes wouldnt virtual photons be themselves electromagnetic waves without movement?
I cannot answer that, as it is much too complicated for me to explain, as I don't have a firm grasp on the concept.
Like I said above, I recommend searching the rest of the forum or starting a new thread.

Hi spuding 102 : The concept of electromagnetic waves without movement is complicated because these waves are light velocity waves. These waves have only one velocity allowed and so we can stay with known rules if we work with energy values rather than zero velocity waves. Recall that a single electron linked with a single proton has maximum binding energy when its orbital radius is at its minimum value. The electron can absorb energy from a photon so that energy is added to the (proton electron) system. In this process, the photon is converted to mass because the total mass of the system increases. This is comparable to winding a watch. Energy added to the watch (system) increases its total mass. I will suggest to Drakkith that no theorist that I have heard of, has a grasp of waves without (observable) movement.

Hi spuding 102 : The concept of electromagnetic waves without movement is complicated because these waves are light velocity waves. These waves have only one velocity allowed and so we can stay with known rules if we work with energy values rather than zero velocity waves. Recall that a single electron linked with a single proton has maximum binding energy when its orbital radius is at its minimum value. The electron can absorb energy from a photon so that energy is added to the (proton electron) system. In this process, the photon is converted to mass because the total mass of the system increases. This is comparable to winding a watch. Energy added to the watch (system) increases its total mass. I will suggest to Drakkith that no theorist that I have heard of, has a grasp of waves without (observable) movement.
When you are winding a watch are you not converting kinetic energy into mechanical energy? not mass?

It is correct to say, that energy added to a system will increase the mass of the system. Energy equals m c squared and so energy added, divided by c squared will be equal to the mass increase of the system when energy is added. A spring that has energy added has greater mass than a spring that is not stressed. The mass increase of a watch when wound is very small but we can calculate the mass change value.

It is correct to say, that energy added to a system will increase the mass of the system. Energy equals m c squared and so energy added, divided by c squared will be equal to the mass increase of the system when energy is added. A spring that has energy added has greater mass than a spring that is not stressed. The mass increase of a watch when wound is very small but we can calculate the mass change value.
yes but energy does not always manifest itself into mass? or does it? For instance when throw a ball does the energy attribute completely to the movement of the ball or does some of it make the ball heavier?

The inertial mass of a ball does increase when its kinetic energy (due to velocity) is increased. When the ball velocity is small compared to light velocity, then the mass increase is very small and so this mass increase is usually ignored. When velocity is significant (compared to light velocity) then the mass increase must be included in any useful computation. For example, at (approximately) 0.866 times light velocity, then the mass is doubled. The mass is twice as great as it would be when at rest. When velocity is small (compared to c ) we usually consider this to be non-relativistic and so mass change is not included in evaluations (computations). The ball does become heavier due to velocity when thrown by a person but this increase is very very small.
r

The inertial mass of a ball does increase when its kinetic energy (due to velocity) is increased. When the ball velocity is small compared to light velocity, then the mass increase is very small and so this mass increase is usually ignored. When velocity is significant (compared to light velocity) then the mass increase must be included in any useful computation. For example, at (approximately) 0.866 times light velocity, then the mass is doubled. The mass is twice as great as it would be when at rest. When velocity is small (compared to c ) we usually consider this to be non-relativistic and so mass change is not included in evaluations (computations). The ball does become heavier due to velocity when thrown by a person but this increase is very very small.
r
So then why does light not have mass if it moves so fast?

Drakkith
Staff Emeritus
So then why does light not have mass if it moves so fast?
Because kinetic energy does not add to REST MASS, also known as invariant mass. The ball does NOT have any more mass from it's own frame of reference.

The referenced material in post #84 shows the electron to be a sphere. "- - if the electron were enlarged to the size of the solar system, its shape would diverge from a perfect sphere less than the width of a human hair." The experimental upper limit (maximum) electron radius is found to be 10 exponent -22 meters. Some theorists describe the electron as a zero radius particle, suggesting it may be gravitationally collapsed to infinite density. Alexander Burinskii has said " Recall, that angular momentum J = h bar/2 for parameters of electron is so high that the - - - spinning particle represents a naked singular ring." (From his paper, The Dirac - Kerr - Newman electron, March, 2008) This suggests the electron density is very high but not infinite. The spherical shape (rather than oval) was not expected by some theorists.

HI,
Firstly I'd like to open with I know what an electron is and I know all about its charge and the role it plays in electricity, current, free electron model etc etc.
My question is what is an electron 'made' out of? My reasoning is that it cant be made out of anything physical as its charge would distribute evenly throughout its-self and would fly apart as every part of the electron would repel every other part of the electron.
In physics the electron is thought of as a mathematical point particle but in a 3-spacial dimensional universe a 1-d object cant physically exist so that rules that out.
If i could magically enlarge an electron to the size of a car what would i physically see?
or is there even any credence to asking a question like that?
It is incorrect to deduce that an electron's charge would make the internal structure of an electron fly apart. Negative electrons move apart when they interact with each other's electric fields - not necessarily when they touch each other.

jleffmann
Please allow me to say, that I'm a failure at mathematics, am left handed, but quite capable of conceptualizing all things. As far as I can tell, Man's grasp of what the Universe "is", is too limited to actually define what an electron actually "is", where it goes or doesn't go when energy is utilized, or what role it actually plays in the "concept" of atomic structure. Our understanding of quantum physics also, in my opinion, falls short of the goal of understanding physical existence. Until we all broaden our horizons of understanding of how small can small be, how large can large be, and for instance what actually "is" gravity, we may fail at attempts to actually "understand" what is happening around and in "us". I guess my point is that the definition of an electron can be practically described, giving that description actual usefulness in life and science, but we don't allow ourselves to proceed in the widest definitions of existence. If I can do anything in my life to promote actualization of an expanded viewpoint of physical existence, then I will be a happy person.

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An excitation of the electron field. But then you'll ask, "What exactly is an electron field?" Such questions are too metaphysical (read "useless") to be of much value to physicists. It's best to stick to the operational and mathematical definitions.

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It's the smallest piece of electricity you can have. That's how I'd explain it to a dum-dum.