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What Is an Electron?

All Atoms are made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Electrons are negatively charged particles. These orbit the nucleus, similar to the way planets orbit the sun. They are “held together’ to the atom’s nucleus by the electromagnetic forces.

Electrons are very, very small—about 1/1000 the size of the smallest atom known to man. Nevertheless, they serve a very important purpose. Without electrons, we would not be able to stand on a flat, firm surface—we’d just sink right through! That’s because the electrons of our shoes “repel” the electrons on the ground, and vice versa. Many of our modern gadgets rely on electrons, such as televisions and computers.
Physicist G. Johnstone Stoney first promoted the concept of an electron in 1874; in 1897, he was also given the privilege of naming it. However, another scientist, J.J. Thompson of Cambridge University, was able to identify the electron as a subatomic particle. Then, in 1909, while conducting an oil drip experiment, American physicist Professor Robert Andrews Millikan discovered that the electron had a negative charge. Scientists have been able to measure the electric charge of the electron as ?1.6022 × 10?19 coulomb.

Electrons can be bound to an atom, but there are also free electrons that “float” in space or in other mediums. In fact, there are quite an abundance of these particles in the universe, and science has been able to “tap” or” harness” their power to generate electricity. For example, electrons are the force behind cutting edge technology like the laser beam.

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