Have electrons always existed?

Nearly certainly not.

First, quantum field theory is the most advanced theory that we know of, and it states that particles such as the electron do not form the fundamental entities. They are fields. Indeed, quantum field theory is performed on a curved background, which means that there may be disagreements between observers about the particle content.

This means that one observer might see an electron-positron couple, while another observer may not.

Excitations of electron fields, also known as electrons, are constantly being created and destroyed. As a photon moves from one place to another, it might briefly dissociate into an electro-positron pair. However, it will recombine back into a photon shortly afterwards. Worse, an electron may “borrow” a positron from another electron and recombine it into a photon.

You see, there is a fundamental principle of particle physics that identical particles cannot be distinguished. Electrons don’t carry ID cards. This makes sense, especially if you remember that electrons do not form the fundamental entities of the theory. The electron field is the fundamental entity of the theory and electrons are its excitations. These excitations would have different identities.

The short version is that just because a particle has a fundamental property, it does not necessarily mean it is eternal or immutable.

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