Scientific knowledge progresses continuously, through observations, experiments and theories. Many physical theories, in particular, have established themselves over the last few centuries and have helped us in our understanding of matter and of the universe, but at the same time many other theories have been superseded and replaced by new ones that have proven to be better.
An example in this sense that I like to remember is the model of the Thomson atom, also called the “plum-cake” atomic model, proposed by Joseph Thomson in 1904, before the discovery of the atomic nucleus. In this model, the atom is made up of a diffused positive charge distribution inside which the negative charges – that is the electrons – are inserted, a bit like the raisins in a plum-cake. In this way, the atom was electrically neutral.
Although based on the experimental evidence of the time, Thomson’s atomic model was not able to justify many things, including radioactivity. In 1908, the model was refuted by the experiment of Geiger and Marsden, later interpreted by Ernest Rutherford in 1911, which suggested an alternative atomic model, in which the positive charge was concentrated in a very small nucleus at the center of the atom. It was a remarkable progress.
The atomic model of Thomson and that of Rutherford in comparison.
A physical theory, in fact, is something that is presented to explain one or more empirical laws that are already known. Physical theories are traditionally accepted if they are able to make correct predictions and no (or few) erroneous predictions: this is the case, for example, of the Einstein’s theories of Restricted Relativity and General Relativity. Moreover, physical theories are more likely to be accepted if they link a wide range of phenomena.
A physical theory should also have – at least as a secondary objective – a certain “economy” and elegance (comparable to mathematical beauty): a notion sometimes called “Occam’s razor” by the 13th century English philosopher William of Occam, according to which between two theories the simplest one that describes the same subject adequately is to be preferred (but sometimes conceptual simplicity can mean mathematical complexity).
Physical theories can be grouped into three categories: traditional theories (mainstream), proposed theories and marginal theories. As for the electron model – we are therefore talking about one of the most important particles in physics! – the traditional theory is that of Quantum Mechanics, which provides that the electron is point-like and without a structure. However, it is a model that has no real physical meaning.
The “timeline” of the history of the atom theory.
Moreover, a “point-like” model of the electron (which carries an electric charge unit), in reality, by its very nature, would predict that the mass of this particle and its energy are infinite, and that the spin and the magnetic moment of the electron are zero. But the latter are obvious absurdities, given that many measurements of these fundamental properties show that the relative quantities are, on the contrary, different from zero and finite as value.
Both spin and magnetic moment are quantities that require an extension in space and the definition of a radius. In fact, the spin has the dimensions of an angular momentum, which is defined as the vector product of a momentum for a radius, while the magnetic moment is defined as the product of an area for a current. Thus, self-contradiction in the common electron theory is evident: on the one hand, this particle is said to be similar to a point; on the other hand, the experiments show that the electron has a finite dimension with a spin, a magnetic moment and a finite density of the charge.
The consolidated equations of mechanics and electricity provide the relationship between the size of an object and its rotation (spin) and magnetic moment. The same equations foresee, without discontinuity, that the spin and the moment of the object become zero when its size approaches a point. But the measured non-zero values of spin and momentum provide convincing evidence that the electron is not point-like!
Furthermore, the concentration of the electronic charge at one point would require an infinite amount of energy and an infinite force to balance the Coulomb force directed towards the outside. If the energy of the rest mass is infinite, therefore, the equivalent mass m = E / c^2 must (according to the traditional theory) also be infinite. But the rest mass of an electron was measured and it is not infinite. Therefore, the electron is not point-like.
The model of the Schrodinger atom (theory of Quantum Mechanics).
The so-called “Mach criterion” for scientific theories requires the invalidation of any theory contrary to the observed facts. The true scientific objective is a description of truth and the legitimate method to validate a postulate is, at a minimum, an application of the “Law of non-contradiction”. The traditional model of the electron is therefore clearly invalidated by the Mach criterion and the “Law of non-contradiction”.
Of course, mathematics has an important function in science. But mathematical models – such as the quantum electron model – which ignore or make significant approximations of the real physical structure are inferior to the physical models that imitate physical reality. The traditional point-like model of the electron is therefore today used only for convenience. In reality, there is no theory that naturally leads to a physically realistic model of the electron.
Many electron models that attempt to solve the obvious limitations of the point-like model of the electron have been presented in the past. In none of these, as far as we know, the fundamental role of the vector potential and the simple equation that inextricably and directly links electromagnetism and mechanics is highlighted:
p = eA = mc
In this equation e is the elementary charge, A the potential vector generated by the motion at the speed of light of the charge itself and p is its mechanical moment.
An exception is a model of Italian researchers presented in a previous post of this blog, which naturally refers to the original articles (1 and 2) of the authors for further study. A new work by the same authors – “Electron Structure, Ultra-Dense Hydrogen and Low Energy Nuclear Reactions“, related to the model presented in the previous two articles – was recently published in the Journal of Condensed Matter Nuclear Science (JCMNS).
The 2 articles describing the new model of the electron.
But how many people have read and, above all, understood that theory? Probably very few, certainly not because the theory is not valid, but because it is not easy to communicate these issues.
In this sense, the excellent explanatory video (which you can find here; it is in Italian, but you can activate subtitles in your language) of this theory and of the related model of the electron, made by Francesco Ferrara should be appreciated very much and “advertised” among the community of Italian physicists. Ferrara is an electronic engineer and lecturer of physics with extraordinary informative abilities, as the published books also demonstrate (we limit ourselves here to mention the textbook “Verso la fisica”, Arianna Edizioni).
In his video, the superiority of the new model of the electron is so evident that the old model used by mainstream physics comes out, in comparison, completely “ridiculed”.
In the new model developed by Italian physicists, the electron has the following fundamental characteristics: it has no mass, has a radius equal to the classic radius of the electron (r ≅ 2,82⋅10−15 ), has an electric charge equal to the classical charge of the electron and, finally, it rotates – at a speed equal to that of light – along a circumference, whose radius is equal to the reduced Compton wavelength (Re ≅ 0.386 ⋅10−12 ), describing , therefore, a current loop.
A screenshot from the video by eng. Ferrara.
The video explains, first of all, how it is possible for a massless ball to have momentum. Then it gives an immediate physical meaning also to the mass (which can be deduced from the model itself, it is not established a priori), to the spin, to the angular momentum, etc. In “natural” units of measurement, the mass of the electron in this model represents precisely the angular pulsation of the rotating sphere and, at the same time, the inverse of its curvature radius.
Moreover, the video shows how, with this new model of the electron, we obtain in an absolutely natural and almost “astonishing” way: (1) the second fundamental law of dynamics; (2) the relativistic relation for the mass and for the radius of the circumference; (3) an indeterminacy principle similar to that of Heisenberg; (4) the plausibility of the point-like charge approximation in the atom; (5) the so-called “fine structure constant” (1/137)
Therefore, I invite you to watch the entire video very carefully …
(physicist, formerly National Institute of Nuclear Physics)