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Electrons are interesting things. Help to form atoms and molecules, they can flow through conductive materials to create electrical currents and they have a strange quantum behavior that is sometimes particle-like and sometimes wave-like. And as far as we can say they are perfectly spherical. This has some interesting consequences for groundbreaking physics.
When we think of the electrons that look like, we usually have a wrong idea. Often electrons portrayed such small particles that circle a nucleus, like planets that circle a star. Electrons are not particles. They do not circle the nucleus of a atoms but rather surround it in a fuzzy quantum cloud. Electrons may show particle-like behavior in some experiments, but they are not difficult solid objects s how we think of particles. In addition, electrons are elementary particles. While an atom’s nucleus is made of neutrons and protons, which in turn consists of quarks, electrons are only electrons. They are not made of even smaller particles.
So what does these fuzzy quantum objects mean? Everything comes down to something called an electric dipole moment. A dipole moment occurs when the loading of an object is not evenly distributed. For example, water molecules have a dipole moment because the molecular bonds between the oxygen atom and the hydrogen atoms mean that the negatively charged electrons are slightly offset from the positively charged nuclei. Lots of molecules have electrical dipole moments, because molecules are not elemental particles. Because electrons are not made of smaller particles, it seems obvious that electrons can not have a dipole moment.
But there is a catch. While the electrons are elemental particles, they also have a characteristic called spider. This is similar to the angular moment of a rotating object, except that it is only an inherent property of electrons. In the standard model of quantum physics, the electron spin does not distort the distribution of charge in an electron, so electrons should not have a dipole moment. In other words, they should be spherical. However, there are tips that the default model may be wrong and some alternative models predict that (but undiscovered) supermassive particles can interact with electron twist to give electrons a small dipole moment. If an experiment showed that electrons are not completely spherical, it would show that the default model is incorrect.
Thus, ACME co-operation was to measure the dipole moment of electrons. ACME stands for Advanced Cold Molecule Electron EDM. In their experiment, they spun lasers on torium monoxide (ThO) molecules. This caused electrons in the molecules to emit light. By measuring the light emitted by the electrons, they can determine how spherical electrons are. Their experiments were so accurate that if an electron was the size of the earth, they could know if it was non-spherical of a small fraction of a human hair. But to the limits of their experiments, electrons appear to be completely spherical.
As far as we can say, the standard model for electrons is right. This means that some of the options to the default model must be wrong.
Paper: ACME Cooperation. Improved limit on electron’s electrical dipole torque. Nature, volume 562, pages 355-360 (201