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Q & A: How fast does the electron spin?

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Most recent answer: 04/23/2015
Q:
does electron spin on its own axis,if so then the equatorial velocity of electron is greater than the velocity of light. but that contradicts the theory of relativity? would u plz explain is?
- mumtaz (age 24)
kargil
A:

Hi Mumtaz,

The electron, as far as anyone has been able to measure, has no width to it. It seems like it's a single point! Experiments have put a maximum radius to the electron at 1 attometer (that's 10^-18 meters, or .000000000000000001 meters), at which point it's impossible to measure anything smaller given current technology. Because there is no structure to the electron, you can't think of the electron like you would a spinning top. 'Spin' is property of electrons we can measure by the way they interact with magnetic fields, but it doesn't have any more intuitive analogy to spinning objects we're familiar with. It does have one other thing in common with spinning objects, though. The electron spin has ordinary conserved angular momentum, so that when, for example, the spins in a magnet change alignment, the missing angular momentum shows up as a little turning of the whole magnet.(see )

If sometime in the future, people did discover that the electron had structure, it would be a very exciting finding, for exactly the reason you mention!

-Courtney K


(published on 04/23/2015)

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