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Q & A: Electron speed and charge?

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Most recent answer: 11/19/2009
Q:
I am developing an industrial troubleshooting course for electrical circuits. A co-worker challenged me during delivery, and asked "What gave the electron enough speed to orbit the nucleus?" Here the refer to (i think) the initial acceleration required to get the electron moving. A follow on question was "where did the they (the proton and electron) get their charge?" I obviously had no answer.
- Mark Shawley (age 41)
Seattle, Wa
A:
There is no answer in classical physics to your first question. To explain it one has to resort to quantum mechanics.For the lowest energy level of the hydrogen atom, in fact, there is no angular momentum, it's just sitting there in a sort of probability cloud. Other possible states do indeed have orbital angular momentum.  This angular momentum can be imparted during the formation process or by excitation by external forces.
As for you second question, "Where did they get their charge?".  If I knew the answer I would be booking a flight to Stockholm to receive my Nobel Prize. 

LeeH

(published on 11/19/2009)

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