Is every electron the same as every other electron in the universe? Why would it be so, and how would we know?

Quantum field theory, which is extremely accurate at predicting the outcomes of experiments, states that there is only one electron and that every physical electron is an instantiation. They are almost identical particles. However, you’ll probably still say that QFT is “just theory”. Let’s take a look at some experimental tests.

Pauli exclusion principle states that no two identical fermions, half-integer spin particles such as the electron, can exist in the same location at the same moment. Many experiments have confirmed this. The exclusion principle would not apply to electrons if they were all different. The principle can be rephrased as “no two particles …” are the same”. However, whatever is unique about them will still give them an “out”.

Let’s suppose that each electron had a tiny serial number that distinguished it from other electrons. Then there would be two distinct microstates in a multi-electron-system that had the same energies as individual electrons, but that electrons were “swapped about”. This would drastically alter the system’s entropy. This isn’t possible.

You could probably come up with excuses for it not being conclusive but for now, it is enough.


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