6th July 1911. The Electron’s all Spin.

It was the British natural philosopher Richard Laming in 1838 who first hypothesized the concept of electrical charges to explain the chemical properties of atoms.  

Today a Thursday in 1911 a Daily Express obituary recorded the death of G. Johnstone Stoney, who is credited with the first use of the word ‘electron’  to describe a fundamental unit quantity of electricity.(1) 

Stoney named the charge in 1891, but it was the physicist J.J.Thomson and his team who were to identify it as a particle in 1897, showing if nothing else, how science development builds on what has gone before.

Planetary Model of electrons.

Diagrammatic planetary model of electrons.

Electrons occupy every atom in the universe, there is one in hydrogen, two in helium and three in lithium for example.

The electron content of an atom completely governs how likely it is to form a bond with another, resulting in a molecule.

Electrons have great power, but only a tiny mass and for example the atom of hydrogen’s other occupant, the proton has a mass 2000 time bigger. All an atom’s mass comes from the nucleus, but all of its size come from the fact that electrons refuse to get too close to the proton.

The mass of the proton comes from its various constituent particles-quarks and gluons-but most comes from virtual particles popping out of the vacuum within it.

In contrast the mass of an electron is a constant of nature: (9.11×10-³¹ Kg).

Electrons ‘spin’ at a rate of +/-½. We human beings need to turn in a circle to go completely round thus we have a ‘spin’ of 1 (of 360°): the electron thus has a ‘spin’ of 720°.(2)

(1) He first called it an electrolion in 1881.

(2) All half-spin particles are called Fermions.



The number of positive charge protons (+) in the nucleus of an atom, determines the number of electrons.

Electrons are involved in chemical reactions and bond other atoms to form a molecule.

The most important structural feature of an atom for determining the chemical behaviour of bonding are the electrons in the outer shell or valence.

A full outer shell, mainly containing 8 electrons, tends to be inert and doesn’t enter into chemical reactions.

Atoms and molecules look for stability or rest, by firstly gaining/losing electron to fill/empty the outer shell or secondly by bonding with other atoms.

Ref: wikipedia.org/g-johnson-stoney.

Ref: wikipedia.org/electrons.

Ref: thebigblogtheory.wordpress.com. Diagram Image.

Ref: Wikipedia.org/answers.

Ref: theguardian.com/science/life-and-physics. Lily Asquith. Thursday 17.3.2011.



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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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