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What's the volume of an electron?

  1. Sep 8, 2003 #1
    What's the volume of an electron?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 5, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 9, 2003 #2

    HallsofIvy

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    I would suspect that the concept of "volume" wouldn't apply to something so small that the uncertainty principle comes into play.

    Do you have some suggestion as to what "shape" an electron is?
     
  4. Sep 9, 2003 #3
    how does the uncertainty principle affect volume?
     
  5. Sep 9, 2003 #4

    HallsofIvy

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    The uncertainty principal says that the "error in position" times the error in "error in speed" equals Plank's constant/mass (I think that's right- anyway, inversely proportional to mass) so for something as light as an electron, it is impossible to determine, exactly, or even very accurately, the position and, so, the volume of an electron.

    Having said that, I immediately "googled" on "volume of electron" and got all sorts of things about "volume of electron beam", "volume of electron density", etc. that aren't about individual electrons.

    When I "googled" on "radius of electron", I found this interesting bit: "In the 1980's, new techniques were developed to confine electrons in magnetic traps, it being possible to confine single electrons for lengthy periods. In the 1990's, the new technology enabled Nobel Prize winner, Hans Dehmelt, to set limits for the electron radius as being between 1 x 10-19m and 1 x 10-22m."

    If you ASSUME that the electron is a sphere, then you can calculate it's volume from that. Again, it's not clear to me how one would determine (or even define!) the "shape" of something of quantum dimensions.
     
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