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What is the shape of an electron?

  1. Oct 20, 2007 #1
    What does an electron look like? What is it made of? It has to be made of something? Can we/Have we been actually able see an electron?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 20, 2007 #2

    Doc Al

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    Says who?
  4. Oct 20, 2007 #3
    Well, then how does it have mass?
  5. Oct 20, 2007 #4

    Doc Al

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    It just does! :smile: (I don't get your point. If an electron were made of something else--call them thingons--how would that answer your question? Someone would just ask: What are thingons made of? They must be made of something!)

    Current theory (the standard model of particle physics) holds that electrons are fundamental particles.
  6. Oct 20, 2007 #5
    Well, yeah, it is a lame Question...but the "it just does" part is what i did not expect from physics
    If e's are just made of charges,charges are energy, and energy does not have mass
  7. Oct 20, 2007 #6


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    Electrons are not made of charges. Charges are not energy. And things with energy behave as though they have mass.

    From the particle point of view, the electron is a fundamental (pointlike) particle. If you prefer to think of things as their (quantum) fields, then individual electron have indeed been seen.
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2007
  8. Oct 20, 2007 #7

    Doc Al

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    Sure, saying "it just is" isn't much of an answer, but that might be the best we can do right now. I don't think there's an accepted answer explaining how mass exists.
    Sorry, but I don't understand any of these three statements. Electrons have charge, but I wouldn't say they are made of charges (whatever that might mean). Thus I don't know what "charges are energy" means, or why that would imply something about the electron's mass.
  9. Oct 20, 2007 #8
    My understanding of particle physics/QFT is pretty nil, so don't quote me on this, but I think the existance of mass is related to the Higgs Boson.
  10. Oct 20, 2007 #9

    Doc Al

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    You're right--my earlier statement is full of crap. The standard model does "explain" mass in terms of various couplings.
  11. Oct 21, 2007 #10
    Well, anyways, if you found my question to be stupid, forgive me, i'm just 14...
  12. Oct 21, 2007 #11
    size is unmeasurable, however the mass is known
  13. Oct 21, 2007 #12
    All so confusing...It has a mass, but it is just a point. Point particle. zero-dimensional. No volume.
    Still got mass.

    Anyways, thanks for the help...
  14. Oct 22, 2007 #13
    Its size is unmeasurable it may just be really really small or it might be as you said zero-dimensional
  15. Oct 28, 2007 #14


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    from the standard model, it achive its mass from the higgs field.

    And what if the electron was made up of something (lets call it fnyquids), then we would as "what is the fnyquids made of?" And state "they have to be made up of something".. for all eternity, It just does not work as that, something has to be elemtary. And according to the leading theories and experimental data, the electron is an elementary particle.

    And yes, the concept of point particles is perhaps a bit confusing in the beginning and hard to swallow, but the contradiction only comes from our classical way to look at nature. We have to allow us to leave our macroscopical world and enter the micrscopical world and play the game with its rules, not by our classical physics rules. See for example in the philosophy sub-forum where we had a loooong discussion about point particles etc.
  16. Nov 3, 2007 #15
    Have you heard of bootstrapping? It escaped the question of the most elementary particle by concentrating on the property that they are interchangeable. But I don't know much~
  17. May 25, 2011 #16
  18. May 25, 2011 #17


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    Er.. no it doesn't.

    The study tries to probe, if any, the electric dipole moment of an electron. They didn't find any and can impose the upper limit of such dipole moment based on the resolution/accuracy of the experiment. It means that the QFT/QED model of an electron having no size (point particle) is valid, because the study could not find any kind of structure.


    Read the paper in this week's Nature.

    This is also a very old thread to resurrect just to make an inaccurate statement.

    Last edited: May 26, 2011
  19. May 25, 2011 #18
    Actually, this statement is just as flawed as the one you are refuting. There is no such rule specifying it either way.
  20. May 25, 2011 #19
    are atoms spheres? protons?
  21. May 26, 2011 #20
    Electrons are very spherical


    I came across this article which has confused me


    I thought that electrons and photons cannot be described classically as spheres because they are smeared out in space until the act of measurement. Then because of the probabalistic nature of QM, we can only guess what it might look like...but they seemed to have measured it extremely accurately....it not making sense for me......

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