Atoms and Atomic Structure

What is the size of an electron?

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2010-09-27 23:58:25

Curiously, this most common of atomic parts has only a fuzzy

estimate of size.

Linus Pauling says "The radius of the electron has not been

determined exactly, but it is known to be less than 1 X 10-13

cm".

So roughly the electron is 1/1000 the size of a proton. Maybe.

But a cooler answer is-- physicists are annoyed by the question. A

good case can be made for other sizes, even huge sizes....because

the properties of the electron OTHER than it's size are the ONLY

important ones. In fact the size of atomic pieces smaller than the

nucleus usually does not matter at all....and may in fact have no

meaning. After all, how do you propose to measure these guys?

The electron is known to be a point particle down to a limit of

10^-18m. It, as far as we know does not have a classical

"size".


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