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Measurement Shows the Electron's Stubborn Roundness

Electrons are extremely round, and some physicists are not pleased about it. A new experiment captured the most detailed view…

Electrons are extremely round, and some physicists are not pleased about it.

A new experiment captured the most detailed view of electrons to date, using lasers to reveal evidence of particles surrounding the particles, researchers reported in a new study . By lighting up molecules, the scientists were able to interpret how other subatomic particles alter the distribution of an electron’s charge. [The 18 Biggest Unsolved Mysteries in Physics]

The symmetrical roundness of the electrons suggested that unseen particles are not big enough to skew electrons into squashed oblong shapes, or ovalities.

At the same time, this new discovery could overthrow several alternative physics theories that attempt to fill In de blanks over fenomenen die het Standard Model niet kan verklaren. David DeMille, a professor at the Department of Physics at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

“It’s certainly not going to make anyone very happy , “DeMille told Live Science.

A well-tested theory

Because subatomic particles can not yet be directly observed, scientists learn about the objects through indirect evidence. By observing what happens in the vacuum around negatively charged electrons-thought to be swarming with clouds or as yet unseen particles-researchers can create models of particle behavior, DeMille said.

The Standard Model describes most of the interactions between all of matter’s building blocks, as well as the forces that act on those particles. For decades, this theory has successfully predicted how matter behaves.

However, there are few exceptions to the model’s explanatory success. The Standard Model does not explain dark matter, a mysterious and invisible substance that exerts a gravitational pull, yet emits no light. And the model does not account for gravity alongside the other fundamental forces that influence matter, according to the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).

Alternative physics theories offer answers where the Standard Model falls short. The Standard Model predicts that particles surrounding electrons do affect an electron’s shape, but at such an infinitesimal scale as to be pretty much undetectable using existing technology. Men andre teorier hint at der er endnu-undiscovered heavy particles. For example, the Supersymmetric Standard Model posits that every particle in the Standard Model has an antimatter partner. Those hypothetical heavyweight particles would deform electrons to a degree that researchers should be able to observe.

Illuminating electrons

To test those predictions, new experiments were peered at electrons at a resolution 1

0 times greater over de vorige inspanningen, voltooid in 2014; Both investigations were conducted by the research project Advanced Cold Molecule Electron Electric Dipole Moment Search (ACME).

The researchers sought an elusive (and unproven) phenomenon called the electric dipole moment, in which an electron’s spherical shape appears deformed on one end and bulged on the other, “DeMille explained-because of heavy particles influencing the electron charge.

These particles would be” many, many orders of magnitude bigger “than particles predicted by the Standard Model,” so it’s a

For the new study, ACME researchers directed a beam of cold thorium oxide molecules at a rate of 1 million per pulse, 50 times per second, into a relatively small chamber in a basement at Harvard University. The scientists zapped the molecules with lasers and studied the light reflected back by the molecules; bends in the light would point to an electric dipole moment.

But there were no twists in the reflected light, and this result casts a dark shadow over the physics theories that predicted heavy particles around electrons, said the researchers. Those particles might still exist, but they would be very different from how they have been described in existing theories, DeMille said in a statement.

“Our result tells the scientific community that we need to seriously rethink some of the alternative theories,” DeMille said. [Strange Quarks and Muons, Oh My! Nature’s Tiniest Particles Dissected]

Dark discoveries

While this experiment evaluated particle behavior around electrons, it also provides important implications for the search for dark matter, DeMille said. Like subatomic particles, dark matter can not be directly observed.

“Much like us, [astrophysicists] are looking in the heart of where many theories have been predicting – for a long time and for a long time and for a long time for very good reasons-a signal should appear, “DeMille said.” And yet, they’re not seeing anything, and we’re not seeing anything. “

Both dark matter and new subatomic particles that were not predicted by the Standard Model is yet to be directly spotted; Still, a growing body of compelling evidence suggests that these phenomena exist. Men før forskere kan finde dem, nogle lange ideer om hvordan de ser ut, vil sikkert bli slettet, DeMille lagt.

“Forventninger om nye partikler er mere og mere som de hadde vært galt,” sa han.

The findings were published online today (Oct. 17) in the journal Nature.

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