Video: Understanding Antiparticles

What particle is the antiparticle of the positron?

01:23

Video Transcript

What particle is the antiparticle of the positron?

Okay, so, to answer this question, we need to know a couple of things. Firstly, we need to spot that the word positron is a portmanteau. In other word, it’s a contraction of two words to make one word. The two words in question are positive and electron. And we combine these two words together to give us positron.

Now as well as this, we can recall that a particle’s antiparticle has the same mass as the particle but opposite charge. In other words, then, the particle and its antiparticle will have the same exact mass and same magnitude, or size, of charge, but the sign on the charge will be opposite. So, if our particle is positively charged, then our antiparticle will have a negative charge of the same magnitude, and vice versa.

Now a common misconception is to think that an electron is a particle, and, therefore, a positron is its antiparticle. But we need to remember that it works both ways. If the positron is the electron’s antiparticle, then this means that the electron is the positron’s antiparticle as well.

And moreover, we can recall that both the electron and the positron have the same mass, a mass of 9.1 times 10 to the power of negative 31 kilograms. And they have the same magnitude charge but the opposite signs on their charges. The electron has a charge of negative 1.6 times 10 to the power of negative 19 coulombs, whereas the positron has a charge of positive 1.6 times 10 to the negative 19 coulombs. And so, as the answer to our question, we can say that the antiparticle of the positron is the electron.

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