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What proof is there that electrons are particles?

Hello TED,

I'm not a physicist but the field interrests me...
And something within physics strikes me as very strange.
Namely that electrons are particles...

In the stuff I've been thought electrons were depicted as being 'small round things in an orbit around an atom'. And I can accept that were it not for the other observation that molecules are groups of several atoms being held together by the attraction and repulsion of the atoms and electrons.

It seems to me that you can always create a situation where the electron (if it is a particle) will collide with either other electrons or with other atom-nucleus'.

Therefor to me it seems a lot more logical that the "electron" is actually a force or a field rather than a particle.

But I am hoping that someone would have a link or an explanation which can show me why an electron is actually a particle.


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    Jan 30 2013: a particle in physics is a similar concept to words in a language. nobody really knows what a word precisely is, but there are things that somehow stick together, mostly unchanged, rarely created or abandoned. and we call them words. similarly, there are things often appear either 1 or 2, but never a half or 0,9. they look similar, in fact they look the same. they rarely appear or disappear, though they can sometimes. so they deserve a name. and since they seem to be localized, indivisible, simple ... hence we classify them a "particle". these are just names. labels. don't mean anything. the important thing is the actual theory (mathematical model) that describes the behavior of stuff.
    • Jan 30 2013: I disagree with the important thing being the actual theory / mathematical model.

      For me the concepts are much more important. We can make mathematical models while not understanding anything. But when you understand something it is (for some people at least ;)) easy to make a mathematical model out of it.

      In the lecture of Feynman that I watched yesterday he explains that the Mayans civilisation could very accurately predict (by counting) when the planet venus would be where in the sky. But they had no idea that it was another planet.

      For me it is much more important to know that there is a planet out there than it is to know exactly when it will be visiable.
      Same for all other parts of physics... I find it more important to know why reactions occur than which.

      You could say that
      "What happens" = observation.
      "How it happens" = math.
      "Why it happens" = understanding.

      Although both the what and the how are important... I'm much more interrested in the why :)
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        Jan 30 2013: well, at least i tried
        • Jan 30 2013: ehhhhhh...
          I think I gave you the wrong impression.... I agree with what you said except for what I point out in my reaction.
          I'm gratefull for your post :)
    • Jan 31 2013: Good point ! language bears the quality of a code, it separates into two what is really one.
      Math is actually doing the same, i am not sure it can be viewed this way , but math is probably in a better position here. It doesn't supply the division with a description, iow. it doesn't language it, the more abstract, the more real, paradoxically :) But even mathematics, if you take Kurt Goedel, is an uncertain enterprise.
      Nothing is secure.

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