Can an electron be identified?

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Can an electron be identified?

Post Number:#1  Postby Belindi » April 12th, 2017, 11:40 am

Consul wrote in answer to a question from me about natural classes:

"Among all the countless things and classes that there are, most are miscellaneous, gerrymandered, ill-demarcated. Only an elite minority are carved at the joints, so that their boundaries are established by objective sameness and difference in nature."

(Lewis, David. "Putnam's Paradox." 1984. Reprinted in Papers in Metaphysics and Epistemology, 56-77. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. p. 65)

That is, natural (non-conventional) classes are identifiable in terms of (observable) objective resemblances or similarities between things. But since there are different degrees of resemblance or similarity, with things being more or less similar to each other, there are also different degrees of naturalness: not all natural classes are equally natural; some are more or less natural than others, with some being perfectly natural and others being imperfectly natural. A perfectly natural class is one whose members are qualitatively identical, i.e. (intrinsically) indistinguishable duplicates, such as the class of electrons: every electron is perfectly similar to any other electron. The classes of elementary particles and the ones of chemical elements are perfectly natural.


Regarding the last sentence, if any electron E can have a locus assigned to it such that it can't occupy the same space at the same time as another electron E2 then it's not identical with E2.

This ontology is different from the ontology of minds and bodies. Minds and bodies do occupy the same space and time as each other because they are two aspects (perspectives) of the same. But multiple electrons aren't different aspects of the same are they?
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Can an electron be identified?



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Re: Can an electron be identified?

Post Number:#2  Postby -1- » April 12th, 2017, 3:06 pm

Belindi wrote: Minds and bodies do occupy the same space and time as each other because they are two aspects (perspectives) of the same.


I don't think minds occupy space at all. Do they?

I don't know anything about electrons, however. My uncle used to have one, I think.
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Re: Can an electron be identified?

Post Number:#3  Postby Felix » April 12th, 2017, 6:40 pm

Belindi: Regarding the last sentence, if any electron E can have a locus assigned to it...


The electron is a theoretical construct, you may as well ask for the precise spacial location of a numeral.
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Re: Can an electron be identified?

Post Number:#4  Postby -1- » April 12th, 2017, 7:08 pm

It's a theoretical construct to us, but different from a numeral, because a numeral is truly a work of the human mind, but an electron has physical characteristics.

It's easiest to visualize it as a little goldish-coloured tiny ball, that spins around its own axis and revolves around a nucleus of an atom in wonderful patterns, so fast, that all you can see is a dust-like fog, and you can never catch the electron in any given spot, because by that time it's somewhere else... and only a prob'lity of its existence is available to man as to its location.

But I digressed. An electron is more than a mere number or numeral... it has weight, speed, momentum, energy, colour and a favourite football team.
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Re: Can an electron be identified?

Post Number:#5  Postby Felix » April 12th, 2017, 7:29 pm

it has weight, speed, momentum, energy, colour and a favourite football team.


All hypothetical though, especially the fave sports team - at least until we see one of them wearing a teeny-tiny sports jersey.
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Re: Can an electron be identified?

Post Number:#6  Postby -1- » April 12th, 2017, 11:19 pm

Felix wrote:
it has weight, speed, momentum, energy, colour and a favourite football team.


All hypothetical though, especially the fave sports team - at least until we see one of them wearing a teeny-tiny sports jersey.


Not quite. Hypothetical thought is a thought that makes sense, but there is no extant evidence of any sort to support its truth.

A theory or so-called fact is a hypothetical thought that has supporting evidence.

Truth and proof do not exist in physics or in the sciences. If you are looking for truth or proof, you need to examine the question from a philosophical perspective or from a faith-based perspective.

Saying that electrons do not exist despite their possessing physical properties and they are only hypothetical beings is saying you and I don't exist, but we are only hypothetical, as you and I can't be measured or observed directly, we can only know we probably exist because we have a body, a mass, opinions, colour of hair or eyes, etc. (*) Favourite football team was an exaggeration, I admit. That part WAS truly hypothetical. Or not even that.

Common language does treat all hypothetical objects (in this sense) as if they were fact. The language would be at fault? No, language is a convention, not a manifestation of truth.

We can redefine everything as hypothetical, if we take your strict meaning of the word and a strict application of it, and then due to language, we'll have to finally redefine "hypothetical"as "commonly accepted as probable truth".

What I am saying is that you are basically right when you say in the strictest sense that electrons are hypothetical; but then again, so is everything else. You must be fair, equitable and consistent if you are so strict about one particular manifestation of matter, you must apply the same strictness to everything else, and then banggg, if you do that, all reality disappears. Which is highly impractical, if anything.
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Re: Can an electron be identified?

Post Number:#7  Postby Greta » April 13th, 2017, 2:44 am

Belindi wrote:Consul wrote in answer to a question from me about natural classes:

"Among all the countless things and classes that there are, most are miscellaneous, gerrymandered, ill-demarcated. Only an elite minority are carved at the joints, so that their boundaries are established by objective sameness and difference in nature."

(Lewis, David. "Putnam's Paradox." 1984. Reprinted in Papers in Metaphysics and Epistemology, 56-77. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. p. 65)

That is, natural (non-conventional) classes are identifiable in terms of (observable) objective resemblances or similarities between things. But since there are different degrees of resemblance or similarity, with things being more or less similar to each other, there are also different degrees of naturalness: not all natural classes are equally natural; some are more or less natural than others, with some being perfectly natural and others being imperfectly natural. A perfectly natural class is one whose members are qualitatively identical, i.e. (intrinsically) indistinguishable duplicates, such as the class of electrons: every electron is perfectly similar to any other electron. The classes of elementary particles and the ones of chemical elements are perfectly natural.


Regarding the last sentence, if any electron E can have a locus assigned to it such that it can't occupy the same space at the same time as another electron E2 then it's not identical with E2.

This ontology is different from the ontology of minds and bodies. Minds and bodies do occupy the same space and time as each other because they are two aspects (perspectives) of the same. But multiple electrons aren't different aspects of the same are they?

QM simply doesn't make sense to macroscopic beings so a debate about whether they are real or not seems fair enough.

I don't know. I once made the mistake of wondering why negatively charged electrons aren't immediately sucked into positively charged atomic nuclei through magnetic attraction, never mind the fact that the strong nuclear force at subatomic levels yields similar density in atomic muclei to what gravity achieves in neutron stars.

As I searched for the answer I encountered mention of spin-spin effects, charge distribution, the Schrödinger equation, quantum degeneracy pressure (aka the Pauli exclusion principle), the Dirac equation ... it's enough to make one's head spin like a subatomic particle reportedly do not (instead they do some odd quantum approximate correlate of spinning).

What I have learned is you can't speed or slow an electron's spin(-like activity). Consider two otherwise macroscopic entities in very different environs. They take on aspects on the environment but they are still, say, Belinda and Felix. My "understanding" (said with a laugh) is that if something in the environment changes an electron, then it's not an electron any more; it would become something else.

However, if one applied a Schroedinger equation to my comment (or not) there would be a very good chance that it's entirely wrong :)
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Re: Can an electron be identified?

Post Number:#8  Postby Belindi » April 13th, 2017, 4:09 am

About three years ago I asked a Physicist who was lecturing if subatomic particles were detectable not only mathematically but also empirically and he said that they were. I would like to believe Consul's explanation but I cannot until I know more about the answer to my question. I am beginning to wonder if questions about physics cannot be answered in everyday language. I have sent for a book about the Standard Model aimed at the almost completely ignorant.
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Re: Can an electron be identified?

Post Number:#9  Postby Felix » April 13th, 2017, 4:18 am

We have mathematically modeled a form of energy we term the electron, but it's not a discrete physical entity that we can capture and examine, that's all I was saying. Belindi implied it was a discrete physical entity. Discrete entities do not display inexplicible nonlocal behaviour, appearing and disappearing like the Cheshire Cat.

About three years ago I asked a Physicist who was lecturing if subatomic particles were detectable not only mathematically but also empirically and he said that they were.


Well, if you call flashing lights in a cloud chamber empirical evidence than I guess so.... but I'm also told that the Cheshire Cat leaves his smile behind whenever he vanishes.
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Re: Can an electron be identified?

Post Number:#10  Postby Belindi » April 13th, 2017, 4:27 am

Felix wrote:We have mathematically modeled a form of energy we term the electron, but it's not a discrete physical entity that we can capture and examine, that's all I was saying. Belindi implied it was a discrete physical entity. Discrete entities do not display inexplicible nonlocal behaviour, appearing and disappearing like the Cheshire Cat.

About three years ago I asked a Physicist who was lecturing if subatomic particles were detectable not only mathematically but also empirically and he said that they were.


Well, if you call flashing lights in a cloud chamber empirical evidence than I guess so.... but I'm also told that the Cheshire Cat leaves his smile behind whenever he vanishes.


So, Felix, are electrons what physicists call "a field"? I can just about imagine what "a field" is in terms of ocean, or atmosphere.
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Re: Can an electron be identified?

Post Number:#11  Postby A Poster He or I » April 13th, 2017, 4:45 pm

I notice, Belindi, that no one has attempted a direct answer of your OP's last question, "But multiple electrons aren't different aspects of the same are they?" I'm in agreement with Felix that we are ultimately just talking about mathematical constructs here, but I freely acknowledge that the effects of what we call electricity are a very real part of our empirical experience, and that the "electromagnetic field" is our best model of electricity, and that the "players" on that field are these troublesome electron thingies.

The thing about fields in physics, unlike those in football stadiums, is that they exist in complementarity with their particle "players." There is no field without the presence of the particles, while the behavior of the players is only understandable in terms of the field they produce. In other words, the mere idea of an individual electron is merely a convenient (or more likely obfuscating) extrapolation of the Pauli exclusion principle. There is circumstantial evidence that all of space and time are merely an emergent epiphenomenon of something much more fundamental (I'm referring here to the consequences of the empirical proofs of Bell's Inequality). So our fundamental concepts of extension and duration are in some sense unreal. The would bode well for an opinion that all electrons are the "same" electron.
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Re: Can an electron be identified?

Post Number:#12  Postby Greta » April 13th, 2017, 6:56 pm

A Poster He or I wrote:I notice, Belindi, that no one has attempted a direct answer of your OP's last question

Apart from:
... you can't speed or slow an electron's spin(-like activity). Consider two otherwise macroscopic entities in very different environs. They take on aspects on the environment but they are still, say, Belinda and Felix. My "understanding" (said with a laugh) is that if something in the environment changes an electron, then it's not an electron any more; it would become something else.
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Re: Can an electron be identified?

Post Number:#13  Postby Felix » April 13th, 2017, 9:52 pm

Here's an an interesting thread on quora.com re: the reality of electrons: http://ow.ly/ZzMl30aQM6c
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Re: Can an electron be identified?

Post Number:#14  Postby -1- » April 13th, 2017, 10:06 pm

Felix wrote:We have mathematically modeled a form of energy we term the electron


This is actually wrong. Electrons are matter, not energy. (You're only right inasmuch as matter is supposed to be convertible to energy, but the two are different.) What we termed electron is the part of a current that helps create work, or store energy, in electricity. It is the MOVING of electrons that makes work, and the DIFFERENCE in charged states that is energy (energy, i.e. a potential that can make work happen.)

Felix wrote: but (electrons are) not a discrete physical entity that we can capture and examine, that's all I was saying. Belindi implied it was a discrete physical entity. Discrete entities do not display inexplicible nonlocal behaviour, appearing and disappearing like the Cheshire Cat.


You are also wrong in this opinion. The facts speak against you, not I. This is not a logically debated thing; much like the existence of a tree is not.

About three years ago I asked a Physicist who was lecturing if subatomic particles were detectable not only mathematically but also empirically and he said that they were.


Felix wrote:Well, if you call flashing lights in a cloud chamber empirical evidence than (then) I guess so.... but I'm also told that the Cheshire Cat leaves his smile behind whenever he vanishes.


Felix, the site's rules prohibit instructing others to go out and educate themselves. I shall therefore hold my peace, but I must insist that at present you mistake QM for MP, and PHY for PHI. I am not even sure if you are committing a fallacy here. Most likely not. You are just saying, and I use this as a model, as a simlle, as a metaphor, not as a fact, "the Earth is not round, it's flat; just look out the window if you don't believe me."

Is it possible for you to "upgrade" your weltanschauung, or world view? I don't know. It is not my job to help you decide that. All I know is that at the moment you are debating completely factual scientific findings, over which the scientific community has consensus and overwhelming evidence, and you are calling the findings out in ways that reflect not a shortcoming in the scientific endeavour of humanity, but a shortcoming of reconciling newly established scientific findings with your world view.
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Re: Can an electron be identified?

Post Number:#15  Postby Felix » April 13th, 2017, 11:26 pm

-1- said: All I know is that at the moment you are debating completely factual scientific findings, over which the scientific community has consensus and overwhelming evidence


What is the "completely factual finding on which there is scientific consensus"? That the electron is, as you said, a discrete form of matter? (that is what we are debating). There is certainly no consensus about that, as it displays both particle and wave like properties.
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