Does the Electron Really Spin?

Does the Electron Really Freeze?
Does the Electron Really Freeze?

Electrons move as if they are spinning around their own axis in the depths of all matter in the universe. These "spinning" electrons are crucial to understanding how atoms and molecules work and are fundamental to quantum physics. Spin work has technological applications in the disciplines of chemistry, physics, medicine, and computer electronics. Other subatomic particles are also spinning.

However, many physicists will tell you that although electrons appear to be spinning, they are not actually spinning. For example, since electrons have angular momentum, which is the tendency for anything to keep spinning (like a spinning bicycle wheel or a skater skating), it could be concluded that they are spinning.

The fact that electrons behave like tiny magnets and that magnetic fields are produced by rotating charged materials provide additional support.

Because of their small size, electrons must spin faster than the speed of light to match their known angular momentum values. This is where the spin theory of electrons fails. (Think of an electron as an inward-spinning skater; the smaller its overall size, the faster it spins).

Caltech assistant philosophy professor Chip Sebens wants to go back to the drawing board and reconsider the idea. As a philosopher of physics, he tries to determine what is really going on at the most fundamental levels of nature.

According to Sebens, “issues left unanswered for too long tend to attract philosophers.” "In quantum physics, we have the tools to predict the results of experiments that work very well for electrons and take spin into account, but the fundamental questions remain open: Why do these methods work and what's going on inside an atom?"

Sebens provided evidence to support the claim that electrons and other subatomic particles do indeed rotate. The solution is about fields.

Particles and fields both exist in nature. In general, physicists believe that fields are more fundamental than particles, but physicists continue to disagree on this point.

For example, light can be described as an electromagnetic wave or a beam of photons. Quantum field theory is the name of this study topic. Aspects of this theory were studied by the late Richard Feynman, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist from Caltech, who also drew the famous Feynman diagrams showing interactions between particles such as electrons and photons and describing fields obliquely. According to Sebens, the best physics we have is quantum field theory.

Sebens explains why he thinks the electron isn't just a point-sized particle that pretends to spin, but rather a sprawling block of charge that actually spins in a number of studies, including a new study in the journal Synthese.

Returning to the ice skater comparison, the electron is like a skater with open arms.
In an atom, the electron is often represented as a cloud showing the electron's potential locations, but according to Sebens the electron is actually physically dispersed across the cloud.
Thanks to the scattered size of the electron, the electron is now large enough to eliminate the need to travel faster than the speed of light. Sebens says there are two important fields in this case: the electromagnetic field and the "Dirac field" named after physicist Paul Dirac. He claims that the Dirac field “explains electrons and positrons, just as the electromagnetic field explains photons.” The antiparticle of the electron is the positron.

This work is a component of Sebens' larger effort to determine whether nature is primarily composed of fields or particles. Sebens argues in the same Synthese article that fields are more fundamental in nature.

The reason is partly based on spin. As mentioned earlier, a field method clarifies the complexity introduced by rotating electrons. He also argues that the field strategy is useful in answering the important question about electrons:

How do electrons behave in the electromagnetic fields they produce?

If the electron is a dot-sized ball of charge, the field it produces at its location is infinitely strong.

This would result in the field not having a specific direction and thus no defined forces, which complicates the calculation of forces. But if the electron were an extended charge field, the forces acting on the various parts of the electron would be finite and would have net directions.

In an article for Aeon on the fundamental components of nature, Sebens claims this "makes the self-interaction dilemma less acute." “But it is not resolved yet. Why don't many of the electron's components repel each other, but if the electron's charge is dispersed in all directions, the electron explodes quickly?"

This self-repulsion issue is something Sebens is currently investigating.

Solving these and other problems he explores may ultimately result in new and improved methods for calculating and measuring quantities in quantum physics. The research could also provide new approaches to solving the quantum measurement problem, an ongoing puzzle in quantum physics. When measuring a quantum system, such as an electron in two states at the same time, the system collapses and the electron takes one of the two states. Why this happens is still a matter of debate. It may be possible to solve the puzzle by investigating the principles underlying how particles and fields work.

Writing for Aeon, Sebens says: “Sometimes making progress in physics means going back to reexamine, reinterpret, and change existing theories. To do this kind of research, we need academics who combine the responsibilities of physicist and philosopher, as was done in Ancient Greece thousands of years ago.”


Günceleme: 14/02/2023 15:14

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