The Thomson problem, initially described by J. J. Thomson in 1904, imagines electrons placed on the surface of a unit sphere and asks how they will arrange themselves to minimize electrostatic potential. This simulation allows us to visualize the problem as more electrons are added.


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Electrons behave predictably, as dictated by Coulomb's law: the force with which they repeal each other is inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. If we constrain them to the surface of a sphere, they will always eventually arrange themselves into a stable configuration, many of which mirror common mathematical objects.