• Question: What makes an electron negative and a proton positive - why do they want to attract each other?

    Asked by Shar37 to Steven, Sarah, Lidunka, Jillian, Connor on 18 Jun 2015.
    • Photo: Lidunka Vocadlo

      Lidunka Vocadlo answered on 18 Jun 2015:

      @675frcc45 the names are pretty arbitrary, just attributed to the property that one of each attracts, and two the same repel. And they repel (or attract) due to the forces acting on them which are governed by an equation relating their charge (positive or negative and how much) and how far apart they are.

    • Photo: Steven Thomson

      Steven Thomson answered on 18 Jun 2015:

      As Lidunka says, the names ‘negative’ and ‘positive’ are just words we’ve made up. What’s important is that they’re opposite in electric charge to each other, and in electromagnetism, opposites attract!

      You might wonder why electrons can’t be positive – turns out they can, but we call them ‘positrons’ instead. They’re much rarer and don’t exist commonly in nature. Likewise, negative protons could exist too. I’m not sure what we call them though – negatons, maybe!?