Science Questions

Does a proton always have the same electron?

Tue, 6th Sep 2016

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Ed Wilson asked:

Does a proton always have the same electron?


We asked David and Caroline for their thoughts on this slightly philosophical question!

David - No, it doesn’t. The nucleus will be that old but it can gain its electrons and lose it and yeah.Quarks in a proton

Kat - We’re getting sort of philosophical like what is an atom? Is it like always, do you step into the same atom twice?

Caroline - I imagine there's not many hydrogen atoms that have kept their same electron for 13.7 billion years. Also, I'm not really sure how you test that. I don’t think you can. I think it must be speculative really.

Kat - Yeah, that you can identify an individual electron.

David - You can't fingerprint an electron. But the state of the universe in the early days, the nuclei and electrons would’ve been separate.

Kat - Wildly promiscuous swapping of electrons.


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