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[SD] Electron Is Surprisingly Spherical, Say Scientists Following 10-Year Study

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
ScienceDaily (May 25, 2011) — Scientists at Imperial College London have made the most accurate measurement yet of the shape of the humble electron, finding that it is almost a perfect sphere, in a study published in the journal Nature on May 25.
...
The researchers are now planning to measure the electron's shape even more closely. The results of this work are important in the study of antimatter, an elusive substance that behaves in the same way as ordinary matter, except that it has an opposite electrical charge.
Source

Yes, it may seem common sense that they're spherical, but I still think this is pretty cool that they're nearly perfectly spherical.
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post #2 of 14
They also happen to act like waves while also being a particle at the same time...
These tiny balls are so confusing.
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post #3 of 14
***!

electrons are supposed to be point particles. and thier location isn't even precisely definable?
Edited by dantoddd - 5/25/11 at 10:53pm
post #4 of 14
ok. This is more reporting fail.

a quick glace at the actual paper here reveals that they looking for an dipole moment and that turned out to be zero. what this says is that the electron shouldn't have a positive and negative side
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
The first sentence states: "The electron is predicted to be slightly aspherical with a distortion characterized by the electric dipole moment (EDM), de".

Therefore, when they measured an EDM that was extremely close to zero, they rejected the initial hypothesis that the electron is aspherical. They even state that "This result, consistent with zero, indicates that the electron is spherical at this improved level of precision." I don't exactly see how this is reporting fail...
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post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by bfeng91 View Post
The first sentence states: "The electron is predicted to be slightly aspherical with a distortion characterized by the electric dipole moment (EDM), de".

Therefore, when they measured an EDM that was extremely close to zero, they rejected the initial hypothesis that the electron is aspherical. They even state that "This result, consistent with zero, indicates that the electron is spherical at this improved level of precision." I don't exactly see how this is reporting fail...
The fail is in the reporter not realizing that the normal Standard Model does not predict any dipole at that level of precision. For those that are interested here is the whole abstract of the article in Nature.

Quote:
The electron is predicted to be slightly aspheric1, with a distortion characterized by the electric dipole moment (EDM), de. No experiment has ever detected this deviation. The standard model of particle physics predicts that de is far too small to detect2, being some eleven orders of magnitude smaller than the current experimental sensitivity. However, many extensions to the standard model naturally predict much larger values of de that should be detectable3. This makes the search for the electron EDM a powerful way to search for new physics and constrain the possible extensions. In particular, the popular idea that new supersymmetric particles may exist at masses of a few hundred GeV/c2 (where c is the speed of light) is difficult to reconcile with the absence of an electron EDM at the present limit of sensitivity2, 4. The size of the EDM is also intimately related to the question of why the Universe has so little antimatter. If the reason is that some undiscovered particle interaction5 breaks the symmetry between matter and antimatter, this should result in a measurable EDM in most models of particle physics2. Here we use cold polar molecules to measure the electron EDM at the highest level of precision reported so far, providing a constraint on any possible new interactions. We obtain de = (−2.4 ± 5.7stat ± 1.5syst) × 10−28e cm, where e is the charge on the electron, which sets a new upper limit of |de| < 10.5 × 10−28e cm with 90 per cent confidence. This result, consistent with zero, indicates that the electron is spherical at this improved level of precision. Our measurement of atto-electronvolt energy shifts in a molecule probes new physics at the tera-electronvolt energy scale2.
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post #7 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by bfeng91 View Post
The first sentence states: "The electron is predicted to be slightly aspherical with a distortion characterized by the electric dipole moment (EDM), de".

Therefore, when they measured an EDM that was extremely close to zero, they rejected the initial hypothesis that the electron is aspherical. They even state that "This result, consistent with zero, indicates that the electron is spherical at this improved level of precision." I don't exactly see how this is reporting fail...
what they're talking about is a 'potential' electric dipole. electrons are point particles there is no substructure to them, they have no shape.
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dantoddd View Post
what they're talking about is a 'potential' electric dipole. electrons are point particles there is no substructure to them, they have no shape.
And yet this paper is about the shape of an electron?
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post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by bfeng91 View Post
And yet this paper is about the shape of an electron?
Bam.
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post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by bfeng91 View Post
And yet this paper is about the shape of an electron?
they're not talking about the shape of an individual electron they're talking about something else. most likely they're talking about surface of the electrical potential, which explains why they're talking about electric dipole moment. The electron most definitely is defined as a point, and even then basic laws of quantum mechanics demand the precise location of this point to be undefinable.

Quote:
The electron has no known substructure.[2][72] Hence, it is defined or assumed to be a point particle with a point charge and no spatial extent.[10]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electro...tal_properties
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