Electrons: Nearly Perfect Spheres

New research can help us understand antimatter, scientists say
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 26, 2011 11:02 AM CDT
Electrons and positrons.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – What is the most round natural object in the universe? Quite possibly the electron, new research finds. London scientists have taken the most accurate measurement to date of the subatomic particle’s shape, and discovered that it is a nearly perfect sphere. It’s off by only 0.000000000000000000000000001cm, meaning that if an electron were blown up to be as big as the solar system, it would still look round to within a hair’s width, the Telegraph reports.

Physicists used a laser to measure the motion of electrons, in an attempt to find wobbles that would suggest a distorted shape. None were found in a decade of research. The findings, published in the journal Nature, can help scientists understand antimatter and how it differs from matter. (An electron is matter; its antimatter version is the positron.) One researcher says this newfound knowledge of “one of the basic building blocks of matter” will “improve our theories of fundamental physics.”

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