What if every electron in the universe was all the same exact particle?Alasdair Wilkins1/17/12 5:20pmFiled to: mad sciencePhysicsJohn wheelerElectronParticle physicsSingle electron universeRichard FeynmanScienceTop953EditPromoteShare to KinjaToggle Conversation toolsGo to permalinkThere's an idea that suggests all the universe's electrons are actually one particle forever traveling backwards and forwards in time. It's a simple, elegant idea that solves some of physics's biggest mysteries. There's only one tiny problem. It's complete nonsense.AdvertisementThis is the story of that bizarre thought experiment and John Archibald Wheeler, the brilliant, largely unsung physicist who came up with it. The Indistinguishable ProblemLike so much of the quantum world, electrons are strange. What's worse, they're all strange in exactly the same way. Every electron is identical to every other electron. They all have the same mass, the same electric charge, and the same spin. (For more on what these terms mean, check out our field guides here and here.) Electrons are just one of the indistinguishable particles - other examples include photons, neutrinos, protons, neutrons, and indeed most of the subatomic particles.ShareTweet Kinja is in read-only mode. We are working to restore service.