The One Electron Universe theory is exactly what it sounds like - the idea that every electron in the universe is the same electron. How could this be possible?
One Electron Universe theory is exactly what it sounds like, it’s the theory that every electron in the universe is the same electron.
If that sounds crazy, that’s because it is. The first rule of this video is to not take this too seriously, it’s really more of a thought experiment.
It was first proposed by physicist John Archibald Wheeler in 1940 in a phone call to Richard Feynman, who eventually popularized the idea.
Wheeler had been working on a problem that had plagued physicists for decades, which was the question of why all electrons have the same mass and the same spin.
He considered the fact that electrons always move in a certain direction in an electromagnetic field due to their negative charge.
Similarly, a positively charged electron, or a positron, would travel the opposite direction because of its positive charge.
So he imagined if you recorded the motion of an electron on video and then played it backwards, it would behave just like a positron.
In other words, if an electron were traveling backwards in time, it would basically be a positron.
This idea of an electron traveling backwards and forwards in time took over. And he began to theorize that in such a case, the same electron would cross our timeline multiple times - and appear to us as the same electron.
I have a feeling I may be losing some of you, let me grab a prop…
(step off screen. Construction SFX. Come back with board)
Okay, I put this board together to help explain this, it took everything I learned from engineering school...
Text: (Joe has never taken a single engineering class)
And I spent a lot of time and money on this…
Text: ($6.79 at Home Depot)
But I think this will help explain it.
So on this board, the vertical axis is the progression of time and the black line is where we are right now, so technically, this line is moving slowly upward, but let’s ignore that for now. And this string represents an electron (wind the string across the nails) traveling back and forth across time. It travels one direction until a force acts on it and then it travels the other direction.
Maybe the force acting on it is the beginning and the end of time in the universe. Who knows? But the point is it goes back and forth over and over again, crossing over our now line. (tie off the end)
So what does this mean to us? Well, think back to that Flatland analogy and how they could only see in one plane, well we are the flatlanders of time if you will, and even though this electron has spanned the timeline of the universe an infinite number of times, we can only see it when it crosses our path, which in this case is 1, 2, 3 (count) 8 times.
In actuality, this would be closer to infinity, but I only have so much string.
So to us, we see an infinite number of electrons doing their electron thing, when in reality, they are all one electron all along.
Meaning that you and I and everybody we know and everything we can touch and every planet and star and galaxy in the universe is made up of the exact same particles.
Now, if you’re wondering how Wheeler may have come up with such a crazy idea, it might be because he was also the guy behind the delayed choice experiment.
I talked about this way back in my double slit experiment video but to greatly simplify this, the delayed choice experiment was a variation on the double slit experiment that allows us to know whether a photon’s waveform collapses before it is observed.
In other words, it behaves differently according to events that have not yet happened. Meaning quantum effects are not necessarily bound by time.
This might also explain why we see quantum particles blink in and out of existence and cross physical barriers they’re not supposed to. Because they’re sliding back and forth across our timeline.