MadSci Network: Physics

Re: Is the electron entering the + terminal sme as the one leaving the - termin

Date: Sat Mar 13 03:40:53 2004
Posted By: Nauzad Tantra, Undergraduate, Production/ Industrial engg., D J Sanghvi college of engg.
Area of science: Physics
ID: 1076690227.Ph

Hi Suzy,
You're question is very intriguing. Often when one thinks of  simple
fundamentals in detail, one comes up with very refreshing insights.

Let us go into the atomic level and see what happens. At the atomic level
all the atoms have their share of electrons. So everything is in the
“Un-excited” state. Ie: More or less things are dormant.

When an electron enters this region the following may take place.

1.	No atoms might attract the electron. In that case the electron will
drift across the conductor and get out at the other end. (Do keep in mind
that whenever you apply a voltage across a conductor, thousands of
electrons enter the conductor pushing those in front of them further away
from their source.)
2.	An atom may take in that electron into its orbit. This will cause an
instability in the atom and the atom might develop a negative charge. This
however cannot last for long and the atom will release it. The electron
might then go into another atom and keep shifting from atom to atom till it
reaches the other end.

In reality both of the above may happen. The electron may enter a few atoms
and skim over the others.

The second part of your question is whether the exact same electron would
be thrown out at the other end. This may not be the case in most cases.
When the atom releases the electron there is a possibility that it releases
a different electron than what it took in. However, all electrons are
exactly identical, so there is no way of practically confirming if the
electron that goes in, is the electron that comes out.

If that sounds a little confusing, let me explain it in a slightly
different way:

Imagine a glass filled to the brim with water. Now what happens if you add
one more drop. Another drop exits the glass from the periphery. Whether
it’s the same drop or not is difficult to tell. That depends on where the
drop entered. Secondly, all the drops look alike. 

Now let the glass be the conductor, and the water be the electrons.

Get the picture!!


Nauzad Tantra

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