Are electrons a known fact or a guesstimation?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by enflagrantedelicto, Feb 20, 2011.

  1. enflagrantedelicto

    Thread Starter New Member

    Feb 20, 2011
    It seems from the little I've read, and I am a newbie, so I can't even claim to even understand all that I've read, but has anyone ever seen an electron, a proton or a neutron or is that all a guess that fits the observations?
  2. KL7AJ

    Senior Member

    Nov 4, 2008
    An electron (or any other sub-atomic particle) can best be described as a MODEL. It has both mechanical properties (size, mass, and charge) as well as wave properties (interference, polarization, and such). Depending on the speed an electron is traveling, the model which fits best can change. There are "relativistic" and "non-relativistic" electrons.

    Don't let anyone tell you they understand it all. All we can say is we PROBABLY understand it a little better now than in the past. :)

  3. jpanhalt

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 18, 2008
  4. Adjuster

    Well-Known Member

    Dec 26, 2010
    Many of us choose to accept models like the electron because they are useful: they help to give a useful picture of how things work. The assumed behaviour of electrons fits in with a lot of observed effects in electrical engineering and science in general. For instance, it would be hard to explain some types of electrical noise unless charge is only available in discrete packets.

    It is true that in order to describe effects on the very small scale, electrons are believed to behave in ways that do not seem to fit in well with our everyday experience, but this has been the result of decades of study. Those of us who are not engaged in advanced physics are unlikely to come up with better ideas for ourselves.

    In the end, I would say that all science comes down to models which best fit the observed facts, and appear to be consistent with one another. As time goes on, new observations may be made and new theories may be advanced. Until then, we do the best we can with the current models.