"There are two ways in which one might distinguish between particles. The first method relies on differences in the particles' intrinsic physical properties, such as mass
, electric charge
, and spin
. If differences exist, we can distinguish between the particles by measuring the relevant properties. However, it is an empirical fact that microscopic particles of the same species have completely equivalent physical properties. For instance, every electron in the universe has exactly the same electric charge; this is why we can speak of such a thing as "the charge of the electron
Even if the particles have equivalent physical properties, there remains a second method for distinguishing between particles, which is to track the trajectory of each particle. As long as we can measure the position of each particle with infinite precision (even when the particles collide), there would be no ambiguity about which particle is which.
The problem with this approach is that it contradicts the principles of quantum mechanics
. According to quantum theory, the particles do not possess definite positions during the periods between measurements. Instead, they are governed by wavefunctions
that give the probability of finding a particle at each position. As time passes, the wavefunctions tend to spread out and overlap. Once this happens, it becomes impossible to determine, in a subsequent measurement, which of the particle positions correspond to those measured earlier. The particles are then said to be indistinguishable
Maybe this belongs in this other thread. But anyway, I still say that this argues against the idea that electrons exist. I think they have only a tendency to exist. I think the criteria of an existing thing is that it is distinguisable...this is what 'exist' means. Note 'ex' - this means 'apart'.