Feeds

Boffins boggled by ORB-shaped electrons

Standard Model's lovely spheres get some support

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

The electron has delivered up a huge disappointment to fans of the “new physics” by being too round.

Unfortunately, the electron's spherical symmetry – demonstrated most recently by a highly sensitive test performed by the Harvard-led ACME collaboration – has now been repeated with ten times the sensitivity of any previous measurement, and is reported in this paper at Arxiv.

The ACME collaboration's measurement says the electron is spheroidal to within 1 x 10-29 of a centimetre (why the boffins didn't express it metres, Vulture South is unsure).

Why is this a problem for “new physics”? Because the very, very, very spherical electron fits the predictions of the Standard Model better than more exotic theories.

The Standard Model's prediction that the electron be spherical (to particle physicists, this is described as the electron's Dipole Moment – near or at zero in the Standard Model) is at odds with theories that predict a great many more fundamental particles than physicists already work with (predicted in some versions of supersymmetry, for example).

As a lepton, the Standard Model electron should have a dipole moment near zero, because it's an elementary particle that isn't made up of smaller critters. Other theorised particle zoos have smaller and stranger critters than we've detected so far, and that would leave the opportunity for a slightly-squashed electron.

As Scientific American puts it:

“According to quantum mechanics, all particles, including the electron, should give rise to a cloud of virtual particles around them that continually sweep in and out of existence. If the standard model is all there is, then these virtual particles would be everyday, run-of-the-mill particles. But if more exotic particles are out there, they should pop up in the virtual clouds around electrons, causing the clouds to be asymmetric—in other words, causing an electric dipole moment.”

To get the measurement, the group sent the ThO molecules into a magnetic shield, used optical pumping to spin them, and used an alternating laser to read the final spin alignment. This is shown in the figure below. ®

Electron dipole moment measurement

No rounding error: measuring the electron's shape. Source: Arxiv, http://arxiv.org/pdf/1310.7534v2.pdf

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Microsoft's anti-bug breakthrough: Wire devs to BRAIN SCANNERS
Clippy: It looks your hands are shaking, are you sure you want to commit this code?
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.