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General Question: What is an Electron?

Answer: The electron is a subatomic particle that carries a negative electric charge. It has no known substructure and is believed to be a point particle. Electrons participate in gravitational, electromagnetic and weak interactions. Like its rest mass and elementary charge, the intrinsic angular momentum (or spin) of an electron has a constant value. In the collision of an electron and a positron, the electron's antiparticle, both are annihilated. An electron–positron pair can be produced from gamma ray photons with sufficient energy.

The concept of an indivisible amount of electric charge was theorized to explain the chemical properties of atoms, beginning in 1838 by British natural philosopher Richard Laming; the name electron was introduced for this charge in 1894 by Irish physicist George Johnstone Stoney. The electron was identified as a particle in 1897 by J. J. Thomson and his team of British physicists. Electrons are identical particles that belong to the first generation of the lepton particle family. Electrons have quantum mechanical properties of both a particle and a wave, so they can collide with other particles and be diffracted like light. Each electron occupies a quantum state that describes its random behavior upon measuring a physical parameter, such as its energy or spin orientation. Because an electron is a type of fermion, no two electrons can occupy the same quantum state; this property is known as the Pauli exclusion principle.

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