Are we living in a one-electron universe: a guide to one of the most exotic hypotheses

Are we living in a one-electron universe: a guide to one of the most exotic hypotheses
Are we living in a one-electron universe: a guide to one of the most exotic hypotheses

In 1940, two famous theoretical physicists were talking about the electron and its properties, so they had the idea that all electrons are one and the same electron.


Physicists John Wheeler and Richard Feynman had a rather unconventional view of reality. For example, they theorized that there is only one electron in the entire Universe, located alternately at all points in space - from the Big Bang to the end of everything (be it the Big Rip, Big Compression, heat death, or something else). In other words, we are talking about the fact that 10 ^ 80 electrons, with which we deal at each moment of time, are one and the same electron. One electron permeating every atom and molecule, regardless of space and time.

Wheeler was pushed to the conclusion that a positron is an electron traveling back in time by quantum entanglement. Feynman later expressed the same hypothesis in his 1949 article, The Theory of Positrons, at Harvard.


The idea is based on world lines traced by each electron through space-time. Wheeler suggested that instead of countless such lines, they could all be parts of a single line drawn by one electron, like a huge tangled knot. Each moment of time is a part of space-time and intersects with the world line connected in a knot many times. At the points of intersection, half of the lines will be directed forward in time, and half will be directed backward. Wheeler suggested that these reverse sections represent the electron's antiparticle, the positron. Attack of the clones

Quantums exist outside of space-time and do not occupy three-dimensional positions. One might even say (but with great care) that space and time themselves are created by the interactions of quanta, namely, by way of quantum entanglement, which has been confirmed experimentally. Moreover, in a "confused" universe, time can be just an illusion. And this brings us to another important question: what does entanglement of all particles mean? What does existence outside space and time mean for an electron?

Imagine a particle moving incredibly fast in time during the very early stages of the universe. It travels so far into the future that it “crashes” into the “wall” (let it be the end of the expansion of the Universe, where the particle can no longer “move” in entropy) and bounces back in time, where it “crashes” into the Big Bang, from where she took off initially. Repeating this process over and over at very high speed will create clones of the same particle - in our case an electron - and it will look like there are trillions of particles and they are everywhere.


If this is too difficult, let's try another thought experiment.

If on Monday you went back in time on Sunday and returned home, and then repeated this process all week (up to Friday), you would end up with five copies of yourself on the same Sunday! Now imagine that the electron does this trillions of times, and "Sunday" is the modern era in the universe.

It was about this concept of "positron" (antiparticle of the electron) that Richard Feynman spoke about.A little later, theoretical physicist Yoichiro Nambu applied it to the entire generation and annihilation of particle-antiparticle pairs in his article published in 1950, stating that “the possible creation and annihilation of pairs that can occur at any given time is not creation and not annihilation, but only a change in the direction of moving particles from the past to the future or from the future to the past."

This may also be the reason why it is impossible to simultaneously find out both the momentum of the electron and its position (according to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle). To understand why Wheeler thought of electrons in this way, we need to consider their properties. One-electron universe

The quanta are not like the "objects" familiar to everyone. The quantum world is generally strange, Richard Feynman himself said about it: "I think I can safely say that no one understands quantum mechanics."

Electrons have a wave-particle duality. This means that they can behave both as particles and as waves, depending on the interaction. To conceptualize quanta more accurately, the wave state should be thought of as a region of probability, which we write in the form of an interference pattern, and the state of a particle is the very probability that collapsed into one point of interaction.


According to General Relativity (GTR), space and time are one, but when it comes to GTR with quantum mechanics, theorists and cosmologists have problems. But they know that the origin of the Universe in the modern cosmological model - the singularity - is a timeless state of space, and there is still no complete understanding of this fact.

It cannot be said with certainty that there was a singularity before the Big Bang - that would create a contradiction by placing the timeless in "time." Moreover, the timeless does not have a temporary relationship, it cannot exist before or after something. The general theory of relativity says that time and space are one fabric, which means that space cannot have its own separate time, and time cannot have its own separate space.

Quantums have some similarities with the "singularity" of the Big Bang: both are timeless, extradimensional energy. Since they are both timeless and extradimensional, they are inseparable, because the very concept of separation exists in the space-time continuum. Quantum relativity

If quanta and singularity are inseparable, then they are one and the same. This brings us to another important point. The Singularity did not disappear in an explosion billions of years ago. Quanta is a singularity interacting with itself. Then it literally turns out that everything is one. This is quantum relativity.

You may ask, what about gravity? General relativity states that gravity is a geometric property of space and time, and experimental evidence shows that space and time are byproducts of quantum entanglement. Scientists recently discovered that some geometric models can be used to greatly simplify the computation of quantum interactions and quantum entanglement. You don't have to go far to assume that the geometry that creates gravity is actually a property of quantum regions of probability.


Quantum entanglement bypasses the speed limits at which information can be transmitted. Interactions between entangled particles occur instantly, regardless of how far away they are from each other. Topologically speaking, this fact makes it possible to assume that there is no space between them. Is time real or is it just an illusion of perception created by the observer? Is space as illusory as time?

The only option in which the electron could simultaneously be “here” and “there” is if the separation of the past, present and future is illusory.If there is some primary fabric on which everything happens at the same time, then one electron can resemble the threads in knitted things with the help of which the fabric is woven. However, of course, this hypothesis has its own serious problems and questions. Criticism and controversy

Missing antimatter. In Wheeler's universe, we should have an equal number of positrons and electrons, but in reality this is not the case. There are immeasurably more electrons than positrons. According to Feynman, he discussed this issue with Wheeler and the latter suggested that the missing positrons could be hidden in protons (using positron capture).

Besides, there is such a thing as other properties of electrons. These particles are subject to decay. In the case of one electron, the number of reincarnated universes would grow more and more and become less stable. Outcome

The theory of a one-electron universe sounds intriguing and interesting, but it is impossible to prove it. To the problems of theory described above, one can add the question of why the number of electrons in the Universe is finite, and not vice versa? These simple but clear examples cast doubt on the entire hypothesis.

However, if the theory is correct, what else could it mean to us? Perhaps any other particle - from protons to neutrons and even exotic particles like neutrinos - is also just one particle traveling back and forth in time. This, in turn, would mean that we not only consist of the same particles, but, in fact, each of us consists of one proton, one neutron and one electron.

Feynman himself, as he admitted, never took Wheeler's idea seriously, but it was she who gave him the idea that an electron and a positron are connected. Based on the fact that these particles differ only in charge, the scientist proved that if you launch an electron back along the time axis, it will be completely identical to a positron. Of course, this is not true, but just a physical interpretation of the phenomenon. 25 years after speculating about the one-electron universe, in 1965 Feynman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics.

Perhaps the most important lesson of the theory of the one-electron universe is that no matter how bizarre and impossible an idea may seem, you never know what it might lead to until you research it.

Popular by topic