What is an electron? This is the title of a jem of an article written in Wireless World back in 1979 by Prof Roger C. Jennison (see references). Someone sent me the pdf a year or so ago and I have been dipping into it from time to time, increasingly excited and amazed by it.
Roger Jennison made the fascinating point that electrons look very much like photons locked in a self made trap (somehow). For example, when an electron and a positron collide, they annihilate cleanly and out come two oppositely-polarised photons. Also, if you fire photons of slowly-decreasing wavelength at the vicinity of something like a heavy nucleus, suddenly, when the photon wavelength reaches 2.4x10^-12 metres, out comes a positron and an electron (pair production). Why this particular wavelength? See below!
The obvious conclusion is that electrons are made of photons and Jennison took this further by modelling an electron as a photon trapped in a cavity, as shown in the schematic below.
Imagine the photon bounces around inside (the blue waves) pushing the cavity plates (black lines) outwards, and you charge the plates positively and negatively so they attract electrostatically to balance the outward push. This is now a stable, static system.
Now imagine you push the cavity externally from the left to the right (black arrow). Now the photon that is just bouncing off the left wall (the light blue wave) is given more energy by the wall pushing it, and the super-energetic wave then pushes the right wall, so it moves too. As the photon bounces back (dark blue wave) it has lost energy so it has less energy when it gets back to the left hand wall and so pulls that wall rightwards. Now if you take away the initial push, this process continues so that the cavity continues to move rightwards, and so this predicts inertia: the cavity keeps going at constant speed unless pushed on. Jennison's model predicts a lot of other photon properties as well, for example its half classical spin, and it predicts a new effect: changes in speed occur in discrete jumps and that when you use photons of wavelength 2.4x10^-12m then the size of the jumps is Planck's constant, which may explain why that wavelength is crucial.
The model is not complete however, because it is unclear what the cavity walls are made of. They're not likely to be made of a conductive shell. The new point I'd like to make is that quantised inertia might be able to answer this: the cavity walls might be the relativistic horizons seen by the photon as it orbits. For objects like photons (if they are objects) an acceleration towards a centre causes the creation of a cylindrical relativistic horizon, from the electrons' point of view, rather like a wall outside the orbit. Could this complete Jennison's electron model? This also makes me think of course of the origin of other particles (higher modes?), the emdrive cavity and also ball lightning..
Thanks to Michael C. Fidler who sent me the Jennison paper last year, and to John Dorman and others for online discussions on this matter.
Jennison, R.C., 1979. What is a electron? Wireless World, June (Link to pdf, thanks to Tom Short).