Illustration of Electron

1897 Electron

The book of science

Tom Sharp

Joseph John Thomson physics Illustration of Electron


The unit of electrical charge is carried by particles accelerating around atoms bound or flying quickly from their orbits. J. J. Thomson realized that cathode rays were streams of these corpuscles, he called them, with the same electric charge and the same mass no matter what they were flying from. Thomson thought that atoms were bundles of thousands of these corpuscles bound together like plums in a positively charged pudding.

Astonishing feats

Sir Electron captures a photon to free the world of stupidity and fear—well, he does not successfully conquer stupidity or fear. Sir Electron binds hydrogens to oxygens to make a bucket of water, which he drinks and uses to wash his hands. Sir Electron powers lights and motors to keep our factories and offices running. They keep us running, too. Sir Electron experiments with molecules to make chemicals that affect our basic physiology. Drug companies make millions. Sir Electron gives us productivity devices, but these don’t make us more productive. We eagerly await version 11, the next sequel.


Body chemistry binds us together. Binary units— male and female. Young romance at our age.

In 1897 J.J. Thomson called electrons corpuscles, although the term electron had been introduced in 1894 by George Johnstone Stoney to explain the chemical properties of atoms and the electron had been theorized since 1838 by Richard Laming. The electron not only carries the unit of electrical charge but also causes chemical bonds and magnetic fields.

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