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Homework Help: What happens when two electrons in a shell collide?

  1. Oct 2, 2008 #1
    My knowledge of chemistry is almost nil - but anyways, I was wondering - what happens when two electrons in the same shell collide? From what I understand is that electrons do not travel in a perfect orbit and randomly wobble a bit. If this is true, then isn't it possible that one electron [in the same shell] wobbles a lot, while one electron wobbles very little.

    Then, if this is true, the electron that wobbles a lot travels a lesser distance along the path of the orbit as opposed to the electron that doesn't...so at one point they're bound to cross paths and eventually collide. I understand from a book on physics I once read that electrons simply repel...which is what causes the atoms in a floor and the atoms in our feet from going through each other, for example. Yet still, wouldn't the repelling force knock one of the electrons out of its orbit? And if this happened within a valence shell, would that electron simply fly away?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 2, 2008 #2


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    I would doubt that they would ever collide, surely the negative charge density of the electrons would repulse and deflect each other preventing collisions.
  4. Oct 2, 2008 #3
    Well, that's my question. What happens when they deflect. There must be more than a billion billion billion atoms in the universe, and so eventually at least one pair of electrons should crash, no?
  5. Oct 2, 2008 #4
    Sure thing. But they'd just repel each other on a perfectly elastic collision. No, they wouldn't fly away or change their orbitals, because that would require energy and no extra energy has been added to the system during their collision. Oh an by the way the number of atoms on the observable universe is something around 1084
  6. Oct 3, 2008 #5
    Got it. It makes sense that the collision would be elastic now, because you're right it would require energy. Now that I think about it, the orbitals are pretty far apart in terms to the size of an electron anyways.

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