(Roughly) Daily

“Protons give an atom its identity, electrons its personality”*…

If an electron were the size of Earth, the experiment could detect a bump the size of a sugar molecule

If the electron’s charge wasn’t perfectly round, it could reveal the existence of hidden particles– and launch a “new physics.” But, as Zack Savitsky reports, a new measurement approaches perfection…

Imagine an electron as a spherical cloud of negative charge. If that ball were ever so slightly less round, it could help explain fundamental gaps in our understanding of physics, including why the universe contains something rather than nothing.

Given the stakes, a small community of physicists has been doggedly hunting for any asymmetry in the shape of the electron for the past few decades. The experiments are now so sensitive that if an electron were the size of Earth, they could detect a bump on the North Pole the height of a single sugar molecule.

The latest results are in: The electron is rounder than that.

The updated measurement disappoints anyone hoping for signs of new physics. But it still helps theorists to constrain their models for what unknown particles and forces may be missing from the current picture…

More at “The Electron Is So Round That It’s Ruling Out Potential New Particles,” from @savagitsky in @QuantaMagazine.

* Bill Bryson


As we ponder perfection, we might spare a thought for Jean Baptiste Perrin; he died on this date in 1942. A physicist, he studied the Brownian motion of minute particles suspended in liquids (sedimentation equilibrium), and verified Albert Einstein’s explanation of the phenomenon– thereby confirming the atomic nature of matter… for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1926.


Written by (Roughly) Daily

April 17, 2023 at 1:00 am

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