Electrons most round natural objects in universeMay 26th, 2011 - 6:58 pm ICT by IANS
London, May 26 (IANS) Electrons may be the most round natural objects in the universe, a study has found.
According to the Daily Telegraph, experts at the Imperial College London have made the most accurate measurement yet of the shape of an electron, finding that it is almost a perfect sphere.
They found that the subatomic particles differ from being perfectly round by less than 0.000000000000000000000000001cm, the newspaper said Thursday.
In layman’s terms, this means that if an electron was magnified to the size of the solar system, it would still appear spherical to within the width of a human hair.
Physicists from the university’s Centre for Cold Matter studied electrons inside molecules called ytterbium fluoride.
Using a laser, they made measurements of the motion of these electrons, looking for any distinctive wobbles which would suggest that the shape of the molecule was distorted - as would occur if the electrons were not perfectly round.
The results 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, according to the Telegraph.
“We’re really pleased that we’ve been able to improve our knowledge of one of the basic building blocks of matter.
“It’s been a very difficult measurement to make, but this knowledge will let us improve our theories of fundamental physics,” the newspaper quoted Jony Hudson, from the Department of Physics at Imperial College London, as saying.
The Big Bang created as much antimatter as ordinary matter, according to the currently accepted laws of physics.
However, antimatter has only been found in minute amounts from sources such as cosmic rays and some radioactive substances since the concept was conceived by Nobel Prize-winning scientist Paul Dirac in 1928.
Professor Edward Hinds, study co-author and head of the Centre for Cold Matter at Imperial College London, said: “The whole world is made almost entirely of normal matter, with only tiny traces of antimatter.”
“Astronomers have looked right to the edge of the visible universe and even then they see just matter, no great stashes of antimatter.
“Physicists just do not know what happened to all the antimatter, but this research can help us to confirm or rule out some of the possible explanations,” the Telegraph quoted Hinds as saying.
The study was published in the journal Nature.
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Tags: accurate measurement, basic building blocks, building blocks of matter, cold matter, cosmic rays, daily telegraph, department of physics, electrical charge, elusive substance, fundamental physics, imperial college london, laws of physics, nobel prize, paul dirac, professor edward, radioactive substances, size of the solar system, subatomic particles, width of a human hair, wobbles