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What holds the electron intact?

  1. Dec 8, 2015 #1
    I was reading the book "Electricity and Magnetism" 3rd edition (Purcell, Morin) and under section 1.3 the book says (I quote):

    "What holds the electron together is as mysterious as what fixes the precise value of its charge. Something more than electrical forces must be involved, for the electrostatic forces between different parts of the electron would be repulsive."

    Unfortunately the book says no more about what really holds the electron together. Really why doesn't an electron just burst due to the repulsion among its own parts?
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2015
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  3. Dec 8, 2015 #2

    davenn

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    what do you mean," What holds the electron intact? "

    what parts ?
    an electron is an elementary particle ... it has no parts :smile:

    you should have a read of this .....
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electron


    cheers
    Dave
     
  4. Dec 8, 2015 #3
    That's what I am actually confused about. I don't understand what does Purcell mean by these lines:
    "What holds the electron together is as mysterious as what fixes the precise value of its charge. Something more than electrical forces must be involved, for the electrostatic forces between different parts of the electron would be repulsive."
    (Electricity and Magnetism. Purcell, Morin. Chapter 1)

    Thanks.
     
  5. Dec 8, 2015 #4

    davenn

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    in light of what is known about electrons these day's ... the statement that book doesn't really make sense
    how old is the book ? ie... when published ?


    OK appears to be recent updated edition ... 2013 ... cant understand why he would state something like that ?? maybe he/they just didn't want to delve deeper as it wasn't needed for the book topic ??

    but its is quite misleading


    D
     
  6. Dec 8, 2015 #5

    sophiecentaur

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    Isn't that where String Theory is supposed to come to the rescue? The above is trying to explain something, only in terms of itself or other less fundamental things.
     
  7. Dec 8, 2015 #6
    I think that quote is a result of the author being a little too whimsical in tone. What I take the author to mean is that if one follows the pattern as we see it at almost every level (that like charges repel each other and that all objects are made up of parts) then there exists a curiosity when considering the electron. Either it is not made up of parts, or it is made up of parts but there exists a mysterious counteracting force to the electric force within the electron, or some other deviation from our expectation occurs.
     
  8. Dec 8, 2015 #7

    phyzguy

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    I find the Feynman Lectures, Vol 2 Chapter 28 a fascinating discussion of this whole question, by someone who obviously had thought a great deal about these questions. It is a bit outdated, but I think still very relevant. I urge the OP to look this up and read it.
     
  9. Dec 9, 2015 #8
    @phyzguy : Thanks for your suggestion. I just read that. I never thought there could be a whole section there discussing this topic! By the way, I find Feynman's lectures in general a bit complicated as a first time learner. At this point of my study, I think I would just leave the question (for now) and come back later when I have gained a bit more knowledge.
    @DocZaius : Most probably you have correctly guessed the author's thoughts. Because after reading your reply I noticed that before talking about the electron's self repulsion, the book mentioned that "... classical theory cannot be expected to explain the structure of elementary particles."
    Perhaps the author was just giving an example of what problem a classical viewpoint can lead to.
     
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