Move Over, Heisenberg: Electron Caught on Film

Elusive negative charge stars in Swedish researchers' breakthrough video
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 26, 2008 12:40 PM CST
Electrons are fast, but an attosecond is faster. Gotcha!   (Shutterstock)
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(Newser) – Electrons are tiny, fast, and, until recently, impossible to capture on film. But a short, super-slow-mo video offers the first direct look at the wily subatomic particle. Coaxing the reclusive electron into the limelight took major maneuvering by Swedish scientists, LiveScience reports. The paparazzi of physicists caught the negative particle by using extremely short pulses of laser light.

The strobe-like technique uses a laser that flashed on for about 300 attoseconds to capture the speedy electron colliding with an atom. In case your stopwatch isn't that accurate, a researcher explains, "an attosecond is related to a second as a second is related to the age of the universe."