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Author Topic: What shape is the electron?  (Read 12302 times)

Offline Bored chemist

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What shape is the electron?
« Reply #25 on: 14/06/2011 21:39:41 »
Anyway, the fact an electron has electric properties with spherical symmetry, doesn't mean it is a sphere, of course (just for people who could think that...)
An electron is not a ball, but a wave, in case.
The experiment showed the wave to be ball shaped.
 

Offline lightarrow

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What shape is the electron?
« Reply #26 on: 14/06/2011 21:47:37 »
Anyway, the fact an electron has electric properties with spherical symmetry, doesn't mean it is a sphere, of course (just for people who could think that...)
An electron is not a ball, but a wave, in case.
The experiment showed the wave to be ball shaped.
It could be. But I'm not totally sure. I would have said that an electron has not an intrinsic shape but that it depends on the wavefunction's symmetries. Let's take an electron inside a metal box; I would have said the electron takes all the box' space.
 

Offline Mr. Data

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What shape is the electron?
« Reply #27 on: 02/07/2011 16:25:48 »
Anyway, the fact an electron has electric properties with spherical symmetry, doesn't mean it is a sphere, of course (just for people who could think that...)
An electron is not a ball, but a wave, in case.
The experiment showed the wave to be ball shaped.
It could be. But I'm not totally sure. I would have said that an electron has not an intrinsic shape but that it depends on the wavefunction's symmetries. Let's take an electron inside a metal box; I would have said the electron takes all the box' space.

Yes, lightarrow, you've said it best of all. The electron is really just a tiny zap of probabilities defined by some wave function state on the system Ψ. If it has a structure, it's made of the same stuff as the wave function - only that when the electron is not being observed, it spreads out over space; this may be a physical quantity, but only up to a limit - or it may be completely physical. I say this because we have observed multiple quantum physical states without disrupting the wave function on the system, so it seems it smears over space in a physical way, either for so long, or all the way into infinity! Hard stuff to imagine, even for me.
 

Offline yor_on

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What shape is the electron?
« Reply #28 on: 03/07/2011 04:25:35 »
A standing wave in a cavity huh :) And atoms are even bigger standing waves, and a molecule is a he* of a lot of standing waves, that moves too :) And humans are he* of a he* of a lot of standing waves, in a countless amount of cavity's, that also posses a will, free or not, that even allow them to choose directions in which to move :)

And that explains it?
ahem?

(couldn't resist it:)
 

Offline Bored chemist

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What shape is the electron?
« Reply #29 on: 03/07/2011 10:20:56 »
The electron's wave function takes up the whole box (actually, in the 1st excited state the wave function has a value of zero in the middle of the box and so on) but the electron is still a small thing which has, according to the original article, been shown to be small and spherical.

"it's made of the same stuff as the wave function"
It doesn't even have the right units for that to be true. The probability density is proportional to the square of the wave function.
Whatever units the wave function has they must differ from those of the probability distribution.

 

Offline Mr. Data

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What shape is the electron?
« Reply #30 on: 03/07/2011 18:06:08 »
The electron's wave function takes up the whole box (actually, in the 1st excited state the wave function has a value of zero in the middle of the box and so on) but the electron is still a small thing which has, according to the original article, been shown to be small and spherical.

"it's made of the same stuff as the wave function"
It doesn't even have the right units for that to be true. The probability density is proportional to the square of the wave function.
Whatever units the wave function has they must differ from those of the probability distribution.



No I don't mean dimensions. Or units. I mean it in the literal sense; an electron, truely is nothing but a speck of probability which would inflate to giant sizes in the fraction of a second. It doesn't of course, most likely to do with it's environment.
 

Offline lightarrow

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What shape is the electron?
« Reply #31 on: 05/07/2011 20:58:31 »
The electron's wave function takes up the whole box (actually, in the 1st excited state the wave function has a value of zero in the middle of the box and so on) but the electron is still a small thing which has, according to the original article, been shown to be small and spherical.
What they have proved is the fact it has zero electric dipole moment. Now, the say (implicitely) that this fact means "the electron is spherical". Ok, now the question is: what does "the electron is spherical" actually means?

Another question: what does "the electron is small" means? "When" or "where" is small? If I collide a very fast electron against a proton I can compute the scattering as if the electron were a point, because the interaction has that property. But even the planet Earth can be considered as a point in the gravitational interaction with Saturn; clearly it depends on the physical system and situation we are considering. Can we say the Earth is point-like in the interaction with the Moon or with a little stone near its surface? Certainly not. In a similar way, can we say the electron in the hydrogen atom is point-like? No, because we wouldn't find the correct solution and so the correct orbitals in that case.

You say  the electron wavefunction is a thing and what "the electron is" is another.
For what I have understood till now and of course I cannot pretend to know the subject better than those scientists, you cannot make that distinction: or the electron "is" the wavefunction (but just a few physicists hold this interpretation) or you cannot say what it is at all.
« Last Edit: 05/07/2011 21:12:45 by lightarrow »
 

Offline Bored chemist

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What shape is the electron?
« Reply #32 on: 05/07/2011 21:52:57 »
"No I don't mean dimensions."
Clearly, or you would have got them right.
"Or units"
Almost a sentence there.
Seriously, you can't say they are the same thing if they don't have the same units.
"I mean it in the literal sense; an electron, truely is nothing but a speck of probability which would inflate to giant sizes in the fraction of a second."
"Literally" what?

" nothing but a speck of probability"
Probability of what?
"which would inflate to giant sizes in the fraction of a second"
Would, in exactly what circumstances?
Obviously not ones that matter because I can localise electrons quite well. The one that was a beta particle that made my geiger counter click was somewhere in the GM tube. It wasn't hiding downstairs. It wasn't spread out across the universe. It was manifestly in the tube.
It has a probability distribution that covers the universe but, at a give time (within some error margin) it was in a given place (also within an error margin).


There is a probability distribution for me. It's largely at home, a fair bit of on the way to and from work; even more of it is at work. There's a bit of it near some pubs too.
But you can't say that this contour map of p(bored chemist) measured in units of something like reciprocal cubic metres is me. It's a property of me.
 

Offline Mr. Data

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What shape is the electron?
« Reply #33 on: 05/07/2011 23:20:19 »
"No I don't mean dimensions."
Clearly, or you would have got them right.
"Or units"
Almost a sentence there.
Seriously, you can't say they are the same thing if they don't have the same units.
"I mean it in the literal sense; an electron, truely is nothing but a speck of probability which would inflate to giant sizes in the fraction of a second."
"Literally" what?

" nothing but a speck of probability"
Probability of what?
"which would inflate to giant sizes in the fraction of a second"
Would, in exactly what circumstances?
Obviously not ones that matter because I can localise electrons quite well. The one that was a beta particle that made my geiger counter click was somewhere in the GM tube. It wasn't hiding downstairs. It wasn't spread out across the universe. It was manifestly in the tube.
It has a probability distribution that covers the universe but, at a give time (within some error margin) it was in a given place (also within an error margin).


There is a probability distribution for me. It's largely at home, a fair bit of on the way to and from work; even more of it is at work. There's a bit of it near some pubs too.
But you can't say that this contour map of p(bored chemist) measured in units of something like reciprocal cubic metres is me. It's a property of me.


Clearly, or you would have got them right.

Glad you have faith in me.

As for the rest, quantum mechanics is a theory of probability. Yes, an electron has a mass. Do you know what mass really is? Did you know mass is nothing but a behaviour... it is a spontaneous symmetry breaking in fields of equations that would normally conserve symmetry for massless fields. Mass a unit of measurement, but that measurement is restricted by probability. True Eigenstates of mass arise under the collapse of the wave function, as you have already mentioned, the probability amplitude. Notice that whilst we have said that the electron has a mass, it actually may as well be said to exist in a cloud of probability rather than having a real Eigenstate, only under the condition of the wave function collapse do we then consider it as a measurement.

What did you think was meant by an electron is nothing but a speck of probability?? This is so true from a quantum mechanical sense.
« Last Edit: 05/07/2011 23:22:38 by Mr. Data »
 

Offline CPT ArkAngel

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What shape is the electron?
« Reply #34 on: 06/07/2011 00:37:01 »
This is the extreme point of view of Quantum Mechanical non sense... Though QM is widely right from another point of view.

Look in Lighter - New Theories section for my explanation.
« Last Edit: 07/07/2011 10:46:08 by CPT ArkAngel »
 

Offline syhprum

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What shape is the electron?
« Reply #35 on: 06/07/2011 09:23:30 »
I thought that I held the prize for the most unanswerable useless question by asking how "many Angels can dance on the point of a pin" but now I feel I have been relgated to second place.
 

dr thompson

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« Reply #36 on: 04/09/2013 15:29:16 »
i like to sprinkle atoms on my pasta at the university dont they make them in france or something
 

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« Reply #36 on: 04/09/2013 15:29:16 »

 

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