Electron is surprisingly round, say scientists following 10 year study

May 25, 2011
Schematic diagram of the pulsed molecular beam apparatus. Image: Nature, doi:10.1038/nature10104

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists at Imperial College London have made the most accurate measurement yet of the shape of the humble electron, finding that it is almost a perfect sphere, in a study published in the journal Nature today.

The experiment, which spanned more than a decade, suggests that the electron differs from being perfectly round by less than 0.000000000000000000000000001 cm. This means that if the electron was magnified to the size of the solar system, it would still appear spherical to within the width of a human hair.

The physicists from Imperial's Centre for Cold Matter studied the inside molecules called Ytterbium Fluoride. Using a very precise laser, they made careful measurements of the motion of these electrons. If the electrons were not perfectly round then, like an unbalanced spinning-top, their motion would exhibit a distinctive wobble, distorting the overall shape of the molecule. The researchers saw no sign of such a wobble.

The researchers are now planning to measure the electron's shape even more closely. The results of this work are important in the study of , an elusive substance that behaves in the same way as ordinary matter, except that it has an opposite . For example, the antimatter version of the negatively charged electron is the positively charged anti-electron (also known as a positron). Understanding the shape of the electron could help researchers understand how positrons behave and how antimatter and matter might differ.

Research co-author, Dr Jony Hudson, from the Department of Physics at Imperial College London, said, "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. People are often surprised to hear that our theories of physics aren't 'finished', but in truth they get constantly refined and improved by making ever more accurate measurements like this one."

The currently accepted laws of physics say that the Big Bang created as much antimatter as ordinary matter. However, since antimatter was first envisaged by Nobel Prize-winning scientist Paul Dirac in 1928, it has only been found in minute amounts from sources such as cosmic rays and some radioactive substances.

Imperial's Centre for Cold Matter aims to explain this lack of antimatter by searching for tiny differences between the behaviour of matter and antimatter that no-one has yet observed. Had the researchers found that electrons are not round it would have provided proof that the behaviour of antimatter and matter differ more than physicists previously thought. This, they say, could explain how all the antimatter disappeared from the universe, leaving only ordinary matter.

Professor Edward Hinds, research 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."

Antimatter is also studied in tiny quantities in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland, where physicists hope to understand what happened in the moments following the Big Bang and to confirm some currently unproven fundamental theories of physics, such as supersymmetry. Knowing whether electrons are round or egg-shaped tests these same fundamental theories, as well as other theories of particle physics that even the Large Hadron Collider cannot test.

To help improve their measurements of the electron's shape, the researchers at the Centre for Cold Matter are now developing new methods to cool their molecules to extremely low temperatures, and to control the exact motion of the molecules. This will allow them to study the behaviour of the embedded electrons in far greater detail than ever before. They say the same technology could also be used to control chemical reactions and to understand the behaviour of systems that are too complex to simulate with a computer.

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More information: Improved measurement of the shape of the electron, Nature 473, 493–496 (26 May 2011) doi:10.1038/nature10104 www.nature.com/nature/journal/v473/n7348/full/nature10104.html

Abstract
The electron is predicted to be slightly aspheric, with a distortion characterized by the electric dipole moment (EDM), de. No experiment has ever detected this deviation. The standard model of particle physics predicts that de is far too small to detect, being some eleven orders of magnitude smaller than the current experimental sensitivity. However, many extensions to the standard model naturally predict much larger values of de that should be detectable. This makes the search for the electron EDM a powerful way to search for new physics and constrain the possible extensions. In particular, the popular idea that new supersymmetric particles may exist at masses of a few hundred GeV/c2 (where c is the speed of light) is difficult to reconcile with the absence of an electron EDM at the present limit of sensitivity. The size of the EDM is also intimately related to the question of why the Universe has so little antimatter. If the reason is that some undiscovered particle interaction breaks the symmetry between matter and antimatter, this should result in a measurable EDM in most models of particle physics. Here we use cold polar molecules to measure the electron EDM at the highest level of precision reported so far, providing a constraint on any possible new interactions. We obtain de = (−2.4 ± 5.7stat ± 1.5syst) × 10−28e cm, where e is the charge on the electron, which sets a new upper limit of |de| < 10.5 × 10−28e cm with 90 per cent confidence. This result, consistent with zero, indicates that the electron is spherical at this improved level of precision. Our measurement of atto-electronvolt energy shifts in a molecule probes new physics at the tera-electronvolt energy scale.

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SemiNerd
4.6 / 5 (16) May 25, 2011
I am a little confused. A shape implies a boundary of some sort. At the size of the electron, and given its nature, even saying that an electron is a a particular location is impossible while its bound into an atom (its just a probability function).

How on earth could anyone propose to measure its shape, much less its roundness?
axemaster
5 / 5 (3) May 25, 2011
I assume that they mean they are measuring the shape of the electric potential surface arbitrarily close to zero radius. But yeah, a better explanation would be nice to have.
spectator
1.7 / 5 (23) May 25, 2011
I am a little confused. A shape implies a boundary of some sort. At the size of the electron, and given its nature, even saying that an electron is a a particular location is impossible while its bound into an atom (its just a probability function).

How on earth could anyone propose to measure its shape, much less its roundness?


Illogical assumptions and garbage in equals illogical conclusions and garbage out.

The alleged precision of this alleged measurement is so far-fetched as to be a complete joke.

If I counted that right, they are claiming a measurement to a degree of precision 27 orders of magnitude smaller than the width of the electron itself.

This is actually mathematically equivalent to measuring the width of a star to within one atomic radius from a distance of over ten light years, or by extension, this alleged measurement is mathematically MORE precise than would be measuring the radius of the entire universe to within one tenth of a nanometer.
sstritt
3.4 / 5 (8) May 25, 2011
This is absurd. Maybe they meant that the shape of the electron orbital was a sphere. Very poorly written article if this is indeed the case.
edit: I see others have pointed out more absurdities before I could finish my post!
spectator
1.8 / 5 (21) May 25, 2011
Actually, it's even more precise than that. I forgot to account for the fact that measuring the electron itself is about 15 orders of magnitude smaller thana meter, so actually this alleged measurement is claiming around 15 orders of magnitude MORE precision than would be needed to measure the entire universe to within one nanometer.

A total of around 42 orders of magnitude smaller than a meter.

This is a Thousand Quadrillion times smaller than the wavelength of the shortest wavelength of gamma ray photons, or a a quintillion, or one Million Trillion, or a billion billion, etc...
my2cts
5 / 5 (2) May 25, 2011
Probably they set an upper limit to the electronic quadrupole moment and interpreted that number in terms of a nearly spherical deformed uniform charge distribution.
CasualObserver
2.3 / 5 (12) May 25, 2011
Sounds fishy to me - if an electron is in fact composed of three quarks and three gluons, it seems like it would be implicitly "lumpy" to me. And as to the comments regarding shape of oribtals, most are not spheres (notable exception, the 1s orbital) but are instead layered bulges. And further to Dr. Heisenberg, could the location and shape of the electon be measured to such certainty, especially considering that an electron's existance is somewhat "smeared" through the wave equation? Just a layperson, but interesting questions none-the-less.
audiologies
5 / 5 (10) May 25, 2011
Whoa slow down spectator. You need to reread the measurement. It does not say 27 orders of magnitude smaller than the electron. It definitely does not say 42 orders smaller than a meter. You missed the cm at the end of the number and made an "illogical assumption" that they were making the measurement relative to the electron radius. It is only 14 orders of magnitude smaller than the electron radius. Still impressive but not quite as ridiculous as you are suggesting.
toyo
5 / 5 (3) May 25, 2011
From the introduction to the paper...
"Here we use cold polar molecules to measure the electron EDM at the highest level of precision reported so far, providing a constraint on any possible new interactions. We obtain de = (2.4±5.7stat±1.5syst)×1028ecm, where e is the charge on the electron, which sets a new upper limit of |de|<10.5×1028ecm with 90 per cent confidence. This result, consistent with zero, indicates that the electron is spherical at this improved level of precision."
audiologies
5 / 5 (29) May 25, 2011
About the questions of what, exactly they are measuring: With a little inference you can easily see what they mean. The experiement was done by checking for a wobble in the orbit of the electron. Any wobble would be the result of an uneven mass distribution in the electron itself. When the electron rotates about its own axis, an uneven mass distribution causes a wobble.

Casual observer, a proton is made of three quarks, not an electron. Electrons are not made of quarks.
toyo
5 / 5 (1) May 25, 2011
I've been trying to get this into the comments list without any luck - here goes again:
The article is at: http://www.nature...104.html

And my quote should be corrected: 1028 should read "10^-28"
that_guy
4.6 / 5 (13) May 25, 2011
Everyone give audiologies 5 stars for being the first commenter who actually understands the article he's commenting on.

Think of it like a washing machine with clothes in it. If clothes are evenly (Round) distributed in it, it will spin smoothly. If the clothes are lopsided (uneven shape), it will wobble around.

A laser cannot directly measure something as small as an electron due to quantum effects/laser wavelength. That's why they use an experimental setup like this to amplify the effects in a measurable way.

That said, I think that first they need to prove that an electron has volume at all (IE, is it just a point), and that they are not just measuring the shape of it's charge.
my2cts
5 / 5 (7) May 25, 2011
"Any wobble would be the result of an uneven mass distribution"

You probably mean the charge distributionm. EDM is the electric dipole moment.
epsi00
2 / 5 (7) May 25, 2011
That said, I think that first they need to prove that an electron has volume at all (IE, is it just a point), and that they are not just measuring the shape of it's charge.


a point ( with zero dimension, let's not forget that ) with physical characteristics? like electrical charge...how unlikely. of course the electron has volume.
my2cts
5 / 5 (3) May 25, 2011
"Any wobble would be the result of an uneven mass distribution in the electron itself"

In fact it is the uneven charge distribution they were after. EDM means electric dipole moment.
that_guy
4.1 / 5 (7) May 25, 2011
Correction, I meant to say that they had to prove that the electron itself is not just a point. the charge has volume, but what makes you think that the electron has to be more than just a point?
my2cts
5 / 5 (2) May 25, 2011
"Any wobble would be the result of an uneven mass distribution in the electron itself"

In fact it is the uneven charge distribution they were after. EDM means electric dipole moment.
my2cts
5 / 5 (7) May 25, 2011
As far as we know an electron is a point, because we are unable to detect any effect of finite size. Nevertheless it could have a dipole moment, a quadrupole moment etc. This paper is consistent with the fact that it does not have a dipole moment.
sstritt
3.4 / 5 (5) May 25, 2011
Thanks to all for the useful comments. Finally makes sense. A more carefully written article could have made it clear to any reasonably intelligent layman. BTW- if the electron is a true point particle, would it not appear as a perfect sphere to this experiment at any precision?
my2cts
5 / 5 (3) May 25, 2011
It is all a question of moments, which are even defined in the limit of a point particle. Possibly at some very small, presently inaccessible scale the electron is spherical with a finite dimension, but we have no way of knowing what that dimension is.
andyrdj
4.2 / 5 (5) May 25, 2011
This is all a little confusing, calling this "shape". To quote from an article I read elsewhere

"An electron's shape refers to that of the cloud of so-called virtual particles thought to surround a dimensionless point. Scientists have predicted this cloud would be slightly aspherical as a result of the pull from its positive and negative poles."

By the looks of it, this idea of shape has nothing to do with whether the electron itself is a 0-dimension point, a 1D string, or N-dimensional brane. Presumably the size of this "intrinsic shape" would be around the Planck-wheeler length of 1.62 x 10-35 Metres, and wouldn't affect the shape of the cloud of virtual particles mentioned here.

hard2grep
4 / 5 (4) May 25, 2011
I think it would be interesting if electrons were square. You would think that a square electron would have some strange reactive properties.I am no scientist, but I figured it was fairly round too.
Mahal_Kita
not rated yet May 25, 2011
This is all a little confusing, calling this "shape". To quote from an article I read elsewhere

"An electron's shape refers to that of the cloud of so-called virtual particles thought to surround a dimensionless point. Scientists have predicted this cloud would be slightly aspherical as a result of the pull from its positive and negative poles."

By the looks of it, this idea of shape has nothing to do with whether the electron itself is a 0-dimension point, a 1D string, or N-dimensional brane. Presumably the size of this "intrinsic shape" would be around the Planck-wheeler length of 1.62 x 10-35 Metres, and wouldn't affect the shape of the cloud of virtual particles mentioned here.


Yes.. And thus the "shape" of such a particle could not be known. You could detect an enery fluctuation - though so minute it would be impossible to detect - while measuring 'top' or bottom' sinus.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.1 / 5 (18) May 25, 2011
This is actually mathematically equivalent to measuring the width of a star to within one atomic radius from a distance of over ten light years, or by extension, this alleged measurement is mathematically MORE precise than would be measuring the radius of the entire universe to within one tenth of a nanometer.
So QC, according to your 1/2 post of calculations and your uneducated and unqualified judgement, this cant be right because well it just cant. Is that what youre saying?

Despite the fact that it is put forth in a peer-reviewed article by SCIENTISTS who have spent decades learning what other scientists have learned, about how the world works and how to go about studying it. And YOU actually think YOUR judgement is somehow able to properly assess what they do.

We have been here before. You still havent sought treatment have you? Or resumed it -?

Your audacity is gut-wrenching.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4 / 5 (16) May 25, 2011
The alleged precision of this alleged measurement is so far-fetched as to be a complete joke.
Perhaps if you had said something like "Thats astounding and I really dont see how this could be because [insert lame and incorrect calcs] seems to indicate... something. I really cant say though because I lack the faculties to make a reasoned judgement. But- wow! How is this possible?!??"

-And then sombody like audiologies would jump in and politely help you out. See, thats the way a rational person might offer a similar comment.
hush1
1 / 5 (2) May 25, 2011
By virtue(definition)of the electron's existence, endowed with the ability to cause, the effect will be a curve (spherical)? Who's object is this? The mathematicians' or the physicists'?

Obviously, a conspiracy. (Conspiracy beyond good and evil)

that_guy
4.8 / 5 (4) May 25, 2011
so...ghost...do you know a guy who goes by specpotater? lol

and while I'm making a little small talk, does anyone ever understand Hush? Sometimes, I read his posts, and i'm like 'that sounds clev- Huh?' Is it just me? I never get what he's trying to say.
sstritt
2.5 / 5 (4) May 25, 2011
and while I'm making a little small talk, does anyone ever understand Hush? Sometimes, I read his posts, and i'm like 'that sounds clev- Huh?' Is it just me? I never get what he's trying to say.

oddly punctuated paranoia. I bet he has red eyes and a bad case of the munchies.
hush1
4.2 / 5 (5) May 25, 2011
lol
Making sense of nonsense.
I learned nonsense before I learned sense. I'm digressing. Again
hush1
4 / 5 (4) May 25, 2011
Many objects were postulated before they existed.
Many objects existed before they were dispelled.

And "conspiracy beyond good and evil" = no conspiracy.

I have no eyes. I munch (on) words.
pokerdice1
not rated yet May 25, 2011
I'm curious what do you regular posters do for a living?
Vendicar_Decarian
0.2 / 5 (37) May 26, 2011
"I am a little confused. A shape implies a boundary of some sort." - 1

Absolutely correct. You must remember that Americans can in general read only at a grade school level - a drop in 3 grade levels since the civil war.

If the author had correctly said that the electron had been confirmed to be spherically symmetric then most of his/her audience would not be capable of comprehending the meaning.
Vendicar_Decarian
0.2 / 5 (36) May 26, 2011
"I'm curious what do you regular posters do for a living?" - pokerdice.

I bring order to chaos.
Vendicar_Decarian
0.2 / 5 (35) May 26, 2011
The claim of near exact spherical symmetry is an interesting one, since motion implies velocity and velocity implies Lorentz contraction, and oblate symmetry.

Hence the invention of magnetism as compensation to the presumed uniform and uncontracted charge on an electron.

So by effective definition electrons are spherically symmetrical at all times and all velocities.

So what was this experiment really measuring?
Vendicar_Decarian
0.5 / 5 (37) May 26, 2011
"Sounds fishy to me - if an electron is in fact composed of three quarks and three gluons, it seems like it would be implicitly "lumpy" to me" - whatever

Electrons have no observed internal structure as probed at any energy yet achieved.
Ramael
1 / 5 (2) May 26, 2011
why would an electron even have a wobble if it doesn't have a boundary? This study doesn't prove the electron is spherical, instead it proves that its not oblong. Not the same thing.
cmn
5 / 5 (2) May 26, 2011
"I'm curious what do you regular posters do for a living?" - pokerdice.

I bring chaos to order.
Pyle
not rated yet May 26, 2011
This study doesn't prove the electron is spherical, instead it proves that its not oblong. Not the same thing.
??? How so?
Hmmm. Missed something. But nice to see an elementary particle be a sphere. Probably gives us more confidence that it might actually be elementary.

I'm curious what do you regular posters do for a living?
Work.

that_guy: On hush, your description of his posts was perfect, "clev-huh?". And thanks for the tip on spec's ghost. Check out the post on the Carbon article. I nearly wet myself.
my2cts
not rated yet May 26, 2011
It is all a question of moments of charge distribution. These are even defined in the limit of a point particle. Possibly at some very small, presently inaccessible scale the electron is something spherical with a finite dimension, but we have no way of knowing what that dimension is.
dcoder
not rated yet May 26, 2011
I read this, and my instinct says "pi then, is no accident". Or should it be, because of pi, the shape of the electron is no accident?
hush1
3 / 5 (2) May 26, 2011
"I'm curious what do you regular posters do for a living?" - pokerdice.

cmn "I bring chaos to order.
VeD "I bring order to chaos.

Brought to you by:
Local Symmetry
wwqq
5 / 5 (6) May 26, 2011
Sounds fishy to me - if an electron is in fact composed of three quarks and three gluons, it seems like it would be implicitly "lumpy" to me.


Electrons are leptons, they are not composed of quarks; they are believed to be elemental particles with no substructure.
Ethelred
4.3 / 5 (6) May 26, 2011
Sounds fishy to me - if an electron is in fact composed of three quarks and three gluons
It isn't. It is a lepton and has no component parts. At least according to the Standard Model.

And further to Dr. Heisenberg, could the location and shape of the electon
They didn't measure those. They were measuring "electric dipole moment". Myself I don't see how the electron could be unbalanced UNLESS someone can prove it has a size greater than the Plank length and no has a clue as to its size except for the possibility that is exactly the the Planck length.

that_guy
but what makes you think that the electron has to be more than just a point?
I think the minimum possible size of anything in the Universe is the Planck length but no I can't prove it.

Ethelred
Ethelred
1 / 5 (1) May 26, 2011
andyrdj quoted this
"An electron's shape refers to that of the cloud of so-called virtual particles thought to surround a dimensionless point. Scientists have predicted this cloud would be slightly aspherical as a result of the pull from its positive and negative poles."
Now that makes some sense but I still don't see that that should make it non-spherical. Single electrons DON'T have poles as that is an aspect of a MOVING electrical field. Relative to the virtual particles the electron should be a fixed object.

Ethelred
elph
not rated yet May 26, 2011
Is there no physical size or dimension below which where it becomes meaningless to use everyday terms and expect reported "results" to bear true scientific import?
RobertKarlStonjek
4 / 5 (1) May 26, 2011
Faith based postulates have no place in modern physics. Solid science once again pushes supersymmetry deeper into the ghostly shadows of speculation and the dark crevices of myth yet to be illuminated by the empirical method of experiment, observation and measurement.
Moebius
2 / 5 (3) May 26, 2011
My guess is that this proves the electron is either a single unit or composed of so many it appears a sphere, like the universe will.
barakn
4 / 5 (1) May 26, 2011
What hasn't been mentioned in this discussion is that electrons have spin, hence their ability to occupy atomic orbitals in pairs despite the Pauli Exclusion Principle. If an electron is an infinitely small point surrounded by a perfectly radially symmetric electric field, then what exactly is "spinning?" Perhaps spin is why they expect a small dipole moment.
epsi00
not rated yet May 26, 2011
That said, I think that first they need to prove that an electron has volume at all (IE, is it just a point), and that they are not just measuring the shape of it's charge.


a point ( with zero dimension, let's not forget that ) with physical characteristics? like electrical charge...how unlikely. of course the electron has volume.
Aranea_hirsuta
not rated yet May 26, 2011


a point ( with zero dimension, let's not forget that ) with physical characteristics? like electrical charge...how unlikely. of course the electron has volume.


I agree. However, since electrons (as well as the other fundamental particles) are localized, soliton eigenmetrics of space measuring the "volume" of the electron might be tricky.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.6 / 5 (7) May 27, 2011
If an electron is an infinitely small point surrounded by a perfectly radially symmetric electric field, then what exactly is "spinning?"
It is a word that inexactly and incorrectly represents a mathematical formula which is the only proper way of describing this or any such property. The math must be understood before the words can be used to discuss these properties. They cannot be further explained using more words, unless those words represent additional math that both parties are familiar with.

Words like 'infinitely' and 'small' and 'point' etc represent proper mathematical constructs to scientists. They cannot describe physics to you. Or me for that matter.
Gawad
not rated yet May 27, 2011
Is there no physical size or dimension below which where it becomes meaningless to use everyday terms and expect reported "results" to bear true scientific import?
Planck units. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planck_units
Pyle
5 / 5 (1) May 27, 2011
To expand on Otto's comment, spin isn't an electron "spinning" like a top. It is quantized angular momentum. It can't get faster or slower. It is a quantum mechanical property of the "fundamental" particles.
I think the description that it is math is more than a little misleading to somebody unfamiliar with quantum mechanics.
that_guy
5 / 5 (1) May 27, 2011

that_guy
but what makes you think that the electron has to be more than just a point?
I think the minimum possible size of anything in the Universe is the Planck length but no I can't prove it.

Ethelred


I'm not convinced. I agree that for something that has volume, the planck length is the smallest unit of distance (And probably a quanticized unit) However, there are many well regarded theories (String theory for example) that view some or all basic fundamental particals as only one or two dimensional.

If a particle does not have at least 2 (or 3) dimensions, then length is a completely invalid measurement.

remember, everything at the planck length is still largely theoretical, so even though I do think planck's theory itself is valid in some ways, it is still technically, an unproven theory itself.

Or there might not be any distinction of dimension at the planck length, which still would satisfy my point.
that_guy
not rated yet May 27, 2011
I guess you could say, to avoid splitting nuances, does the electron have a measurement over one planck length cubed to give it a valid three dimensional "size"
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (4) May 27, 2011
To expand on Otto's comment, spin isn't an electron "spinning" like a top. It is quantized angular momentum. It can't get faster or slower. It is a quantum mechanical property of the "fundamental" particles.
I think the description that it is math is more than a little misleading to somebody unfamiliar with quantum mechanics.
-And I think that a description in words to a person who is unfamiliar with the nature of scientific inquiry, increases their unfamiliarity.

Please define 'quantized', 'angular', and 'momentum' in a useful way. Then define those words with additional words. Eventually you end up with spaghetti, and barakn still doesnt know what youre talking about. And neither would I, but I am perfectly ok with that for I know that science is done with numbers and not words.
Vendicar_Decarian
0.1 / 5 (34) May 29, 2011
"My guess is that this proves the electron is either a single unit or composed of so many it appears a sphere, like the universe will." - Moebius

If electrons are a "single unit", then how do you explain electron self-interference, and it's arbitrarily distributed wave function?

Vendicar_Decarian
0.2 / 5 (36) May 29, 2011
"To expand on Otto's comment, spin isn't an electron "spinning" like a top. It is quantized angular momentum." - Pyle

Meaningless.

Electrons have no spin although vacuum fields may curve around them, it is this curvature is falsely attributed to be the spin of the electron itself.
Pyle
5 / 5 (2) May 29, 2011
Electrons have no spin although vacuum fields may curve around them, it is this curvature is falsely attributed to be the spin of the electron itself.

You're superior Canadian answers are usually dead on, but I haven't the foggiest what you are taking about here. Care to explain you are tawkin aboot? Ay?

Otto: I gave the uniformed reader words to look up. Saying that electrons are spinning gives them a false sense that they might have a clue what it is all about. Like the feeling I had before VD spoke up.
Ethelred
4 / 5 (4) May 29, 2011
This started out as a simple reply to Vendicar's two posts. I got a bit carried away but the reply is in the next three paragraphs.

f electrons are a "single unit", then how do you explain electron self-interference, and it's arbitrarily distributed wave function?
The wave function is the Broglie equation. Electrons behave as if they are waves. Unless they are restricted in some way they always behave as waves. Observation by human, apparatus, massive objects all can restrict an electron wave to behave in a point like manner. That is how the math works even if the thought models, such as the Copenhagen Interpretation, don't acknowledge it.

For instance the two path experiments allow the electron to behave as a wave when both paths are open. Closing one of the paths restricts the electron wave to a point like path. Again that is supported by the math. Or so I am told as I can't do the math.>>
Ethelred
4 / 5 (4) May 29, 2011
Frankly I like the Many Worlds interpretation but that wave models seems to work so I am ambivalent on these days. I switch back and forth depending on the details of the situation. I suspect that they may be compatible.

Electrons have no spin although vacuum fields may curve around them,
Well that sounds good but there is nothing to support it. Kind of like my thinking on this. Which is that the numbers is all there is. Spin is just a name for a number that makes the math fit the evidence. I have seen people in quantum mechanics wish that the property had not been called spin. That seems to be reason for the whimsical names of the properties of the quarks. Up Down Strange Color are just words with no meaning besides what they represent in the math. There is nothing physical to support it except that the math makes successful predictions. I am not completely comfortable with that way of thinking about it.
Ethelred
4 / 5 (4) May 29, 2011
What that comes down to though is a non-physical way of thinking about physics. My real problem with it is that it makes the Universe rather Matrix like. Since computer simulations of reality have become a new way of thinking about things AND there is strong tendency to ascribe the latest fashions in politics and social philosophy to other fields, see how anthropologists keep changing their thinking on dead civilizations in ways that match the latest fashion, I am rather wary of the Matrix style model, not the wacked out humans as power source stupidity, but it does fit the math. My that is a long compound sentence but I can't see how to break it up.

To put the model into explicit words. The Universe is math. Each point in space-time has a set of numbers associated with it. Some of those numbers have a resonance with the emergent properties we evolved to deal with, momentum, mass-energy, polarization.>>
Ethelred
4.2 / 5 (5) May 29, 2011
Some do not. Such as color or SPIN. Insisting that dimensions have to be spatial is result the way we evolved and not something the Universe is beholden to. However the 3 spatial dimensions of space-time do seem to have a strong mapping of their properties, possibly one to one, with the points in a physical three dimensional array and not the sort of linear array that is in our computers. Time would be a fourth such dimension and and things get a bit fuzzy there as the properties of time are not the same as the properties of space. As for why? Why not. The math works and as long as the Universe is mathematically valid why shouldn't it exist.

Frajo really doesn't like that because the Universe doesn't support all of mathematics but I don't see why that is a requirement. It seems to me that it would make the Universe invalid.

Ethelred
seb
not rated yet May 29, 2011
In that show "Into the wormhole" with morgan freeman, the one that has blackholes as it's subject, they have some scientist types making the remarkable claim that blackholes seem to act surprisingly like the tiny particles that make up matter.

I wonder how that relates to the discovery that electrons are surprisingly round in nature?
Pyle
5 / 5 (4) May 29, 2011
Eth, great posts.

I'd would like to add, though, that there is a reason that the word spin is used in quantum field theory. The "units" of spin in QFT are those of angular momentum in classical physics. And spin is conserved like angular momentum is conserved. It is true that there isn't a "physical conception" of quantum spin, but it doesn't mean that the name was chosen at random or to confuse.

Still don't know what your Canadian friend was talking about though. VD?
hush1
5 / 5 (2) May 29, 2011
Yes. Great posts. I agree.

For those lost in space:
1.)The discourse churns around Map vs. Territory.

For those lost in space:
1.) The discourse is, is space discrete or continuous?
Or even more concrete; QM vs. GR.

For those lost in space:
1.) "The Universe is math." The discourse is: Which math?

For those NOT lost ANYWHERE:
1.)Congratulations. Don't go anywhere, before enlightening us.
hush1
1 / 5 (1) May 29, 2011
For our younger readers:

Kids, do you remember your first ball? Paint a face on it. Now put the ball on the ground and look down at it. The face on the ball will look at you, always.

Big kids are paid to guess if there is anything inside the ball, that makes the ball always look at you. And, of course, what makes the ball round is the air inside the ball too.
Big kids have different words for air, and what always makes the ball face you. Now go play.
Vendicar_Decarian
0.2 / 5 (35) May 29, 2011
"You're superior Canadian answers are usually dead on, but I haven't the foggiest what you are taking about here. Care to explain you are tawkin aboot?" - Pyle

With electrons there is no internal parts to spin. Electrons are a point origin of a charge field.

Space around them however is full of charge polarizations and these flow about the electron at all times. It is the flow of these charges that produce spin.

An electron at rest spins in all directions at the same time since there is a statistically equal probability to the charge distribution flowing about it.

When measured however, the measurement process requires a difference of one quanta of charge between one side of the electron and the other, and it is this dipole that is responsible for the apparent spin that is measured.

The spin is attributed to the electron. But in fact the spin is an attribute of the vacuum as it interacts with the electron as seen by an observer.
Vendicar_Decarian
0.1 / 5 (34) May 29, 2011
""The Universe is math." The discourse is: Which math?" - Hush

In a universe in which the laws of counting objects follows 1+1 = 2, and N+1 = (N+1) then the laws of mathematics are identical to ours as all algebra is historically based on counting and the generalization of those rules.

No alternatives are possible.

Vendicar_Decarian
0.5 / 5 (37) May 29, 2011
"Closing one of the paths restricts the electron wave to a point like path. Again that is supported by the math." - Ethel

It is much worse than that. Suppose you have a particle moving about in a mirrored box that has a hole in the side. As the probability wave evolves inside the box, some of it will escape the box through the hole and form a pulse train moving away from the box.

That pulse train can be made as long as you like depending on the perfection of the mirrored sides.

Worse, you can open and close the hole so that the pulse train leaving the box has any period you desire. It could be light years long.

And when you detect the particle anywhere, the light year long probability function vanishes to a point and does so instantly.

So with an electron so broadly and arbitrarily broken up, in what way is it a single thing?
Vendicar_Decarian
0.2 / 5 (35) May 29, 2011
"they have some scientist types making the remarkable claim that blackholes seem to act surprisingly like the tiny particles that make up matter." - sed

The convergence of large and small is interesting isn't it? What is the diameter of the event horizon of an electron if it has one? Is it larger or smaller than the plank length?

In a universe containing one black hole and nothing else from horizon to horizon, how do you measure the diameter of it's event horizon?

What method does the universe use to measure distance if there is only one object in the universe?
hush1
3 / 5 (2) May 29, 2011
No alternatives are possible]

The alternative was a continuum. 'Size' if you will, not in the conventional sense. The continuum is not interested in 'what' or 'where', just a one to one correspondence. Regardless of what 'what' is, regardless of where 'where' is.

You were not satisfied with 'size'. Uncountability is unacceptable to you. So you went ahead with your "laws of counting objects" You linearized continuous functions. All math became countable. Discrete mathematics. Matrices. QM.

And orphaned a continuum apparently offering you no exact solutions.

And now you can get as close as you want or need to, to describe a reality that has no continuum. Fine.

Objects describe as such, magically disappearing below the level of quanta. Under the rug, out of sight and mind. With success. A success that waivers Grand Unification.
Vendicar_Decarian
0.2 / 5 (35) May 30, 2011
Ya, well. Few people are content with QM.

And those who are, are in need of psychiatric treatment IMO.
hush1
1 / 5 (1) May 30, 2011
lol
Some of my best friends are mechanics. Instead of cars, quanta.
Ethelred
3.7 / 5 (3) May 30, 2011
So with an electron so broadly and arbitrarily broken up, in what way is it a single thing?
Stop thinking of it as a particle and you won't have problem. Its a wave. EVERYTHING is a wave. And I switch back and forth on this depending what is a more convenient way to look at it.

The other way I look at it is the MultiWorld model. In this case the electron IS going all possible routes as a particle, though I suppose it be as a wave instead. Chop it up any way you want the electrons goes ALL ways in the MultiWorld model. Which world YOU live in you don't find out till you look.

More
Ethelred
4 / 5 (4) May 30, 2011
There is no collapse of the wave at superluminal speeds in this model which why I think the Copenhagen model is purest crap. No spooky action at a distance. None of the problems. But. You have to accept a near infinite number of worlds. Which where my idea of the Universe as math comes back in. It its mathematically valid it IS. None of the worries about a coin flip creating two universes. They BOTH existed in some sense. You just don't know which one you live in till you look a the coin. And yes it makes a mess of time. Well a bigger mess. Or no mess because all time exists at once in some sort of metatime or maybe outside of time with Time As A Numerically Ordered Series Of Events.

And that is enough of making my brain hurt. If I am not careful Dr. Gumby will have to take it out.

Ethelred
Ethelred
3 / 5 (2) May 30, 2011
Objects describe as such, magically disappearing below the level of quanta. Under the rug,
This is not a problem. You are suffering from a poor choice of viewpoint. There IS NO spoon,, ugh Rug I meant rug. That is there nothing below quanta. Nothing disappears below because simply isn't a below. In this case the base appears to be the Plank Quanta.

Whatever it is Planck's the limit.

Ethelred
bewertow
not rated yet May 30, 2011
Sounds fishy to me - if an electron is in fact composed of three quarks and three gluons, it seems like it would be implicitly "lumpy" to me. And as to the comments regarding shape of oribtals, most are not spheres (notable exception, the 1s orbital) but are instead layered bulges. And further to Dr. Heisenberg, could the location and shape of the electon be measured to such certainty, especially considering that an electron's existance is somewhat "smeared" through the wave equation? Just a layperson, but interesting questions none-the-less.


LOL electrons aren't made of quarks! Electrons are leptons, not hadrons.
Skultch
5 / 5 (1) May 30, 2011
Ahh, the duality of what works and what's true. It's kinda everywhere you look, if you get my infinite entendre? Charmingly anthropic even.

Sorry. I took my medicine in order to understand Hush and this is what comes out. haha

Now that this thread shows up in my activity, please proceed.... :)
hush1
4.2 / 5 (5) May 30, 2011
lol
Medically assisted understanding.
A person who has faith in the power of medicine.
Nature is a placebo. For our phantom thoughts.
Vendicar_Decarian
0.1 / 5 (34) May 31, 2011
"Stop thinking of it as a particle and you won't have problem. Its a wave. EVERYTHING is a wave." - Ethelred

If it is an extended object (and an arbitrarily shaped one at that) then if one portion of the wave function vanishes before another then the particle has been subdivided and hence isn't a quantized entity.

If it does vanish instantly then there goes causuality.
hush1
1 / 5 (1) May 31, 2011
The continuum is infinite, smooth and contains no discontinuities. QM says, take the limit (average) of the infinite set of elements(frames). Saying it doesn't matter how many elements (frames) of a set there are, finite or infinite. If you superimpose all frames over each other, the picture you get is blurred. Oh excuse me, "smeared".

"...then if one portion of the wave function vanishes before another then the particle has been subdivided and hence isn't a quantized entity."

Is "vanishes" synonymous to "collapses"?

Anyway, there are some serious translation flaws going on in the scientific community. Of course, everyone accepts Erwin Schrödinger's work. His own translation of the word "Verschränkung" as the English equivalent to the word "entanglement" sucks. Enclosed, or enclosure, is the proper English equivalent. Too late. Everyone is going to have to live with the wrong meaning. Thanks, Erwin, way to go. lol
No wonder everyone is Confucius.
:)
Ethelred
not rated yet May 31, 2011
then if one portion of the wave function vanishes before another then the particle has been subdivided and hence isn't a quantized entity.
This is again due to not thinking about it from the best point of view. If the way you think about results in nonsense like that, and I am pretty you intended it to be nonsense, you may very well be going at it the wrong way.

I was thinking about you previous post as I was walking to catch a bus this afternoon and I noticed that it was WRONG in ways I missed, due to you missing out on the BOX and what it meant to the thought experiment. So I am going to go over that post right now.

Suppose you have a particle moving about in a mirrored box that has a hole in the side.
The particle, an electron in this case because that was what the article is about, was being considered as a wave in my post. The wave interacts with the box and the box interacts with the Universe. This what you missed and for that matter Einstein missed.>
Ethelred
1 / 5 (1) May 31, 2011
The box interacts with both and the box is the observer. Intelligent observation is NOT needed and any implication that it is needed in the Copenhagen model is just more evidence that it is purest crap. How Einstein and Schroedinger missed this something I can't fathom except that maybe they had fixated on the Copenhagen model too much.

. As the probability wave evolves inside the box, some of it will escape the box through the hole and form a pulse train moving away from the box.
No pulse train at this point as the box is open and the electron could escape.

Copraphilia - the electron is both in the box and outside the box in a hemisphere expanding at C.

MultiWorlds - the electron travels all possible paths but only one in each universe.

Wave function - the wave would be a standing wave IF the box was closed but since it is open the wave fills the box and is filling a hemisphere at C.>>
Ethelred
1 / 5 (1) May 31, 2011
Worse, you can open and close the hole so that the pulse train leaving the box has any period you desire.
Close the door. Doesn't matter when as long as the time is greater than the time for the electron to exist the hole. When you close the hole

Copraphilia - The electron is either in the box or outside the box. In the silliest version none of this means anything unless someone looks but you do get a probability pulse from opening and closing the door, which is why it is CRAP. The whole damned stupid idiocy on this is the STUPID concept the universe gives a tinkers damn whether an intelligence is involved. Idiocy from Europeans that had read too much Hindu mystical nonsense. Yes this means Bohr and Heisenberg had fuzzed up their thinking with mysticism instead using reason. No I am not smarter than them. I simply have more perspective through the length of time since this idiotic idea polluted science.>>
Ethelred
1 / 5 (1) May 31, 2011
Anyone that likes that version can just go over the total confusion involved in this rather clever thought experiment and they had better have some REALLY clever ideas on how to make it at least pass for rational.

In the rational version where interaction with anything counts as observation the electron either stayed in the box or it didn't and the box door is the decider on this. There is no pulse. There is either ONE electron outside the box or the electron left the box. Which we don't know till we look but it IS one or the other and not both because the BOX has observed it. Now that way actually has meaning and can be useful instead of just confusing.

MultiWorlds - The electron stayed in the box in some worlds and left it other worlds. Either way there is no pulsing from opening an closing the door. However in some worlds the electron stayed the first the door was opened and left the second or later times.>
Ethelred
1 / 5 (1) May 31, 2011
Which world we live in is something we don't know till we look but we only live in one. So there is no pulsing going on.

Wave function - When the box is closed the electron is a standing wave with a somewhat greater chance of being found near the sides of the box. This is true in all versions since the math has the same probability function. Open the box. Now you have a wave that is within and outside the box. Close the box. The wave is now cut off. BUT the box is still involved. The box is either still being effected by an electron wave in it or it isn't. We don't know which unless we look BUT it is either one or another because the box is either interacting or it isn't.

Now ALL three versions DO wind up with a probability function that has a pulse like character BUT that is not the same as the electron actually being a pulsed electron. It is only one electron whether as a particle or a wave.>>
Ethelred
1 / 5 (1) May 31, 2011
I am a bit more hazy on the wave method of thinking on this. I wonder what Dr. Prinz would say as it is his idea even if the math is the same on three ways of doing this.

Basically you are mistaking a probability for an actuality. The electron is not made up of multiple parts but it has multiple places that it might be in. You can see this with a double slit experiment. Two slits and your way would have an electron with two parts. Now lets add more slits. Each slit requires MORE parts. How many slits are needed to go beyond the number of parts an electron could possibly have? Add MORE slits and according the math you will still have more interference than with less slits. I really don't think an electron has an infinite number of subunits.

Ethelred
DoubleD
not rated yet May 31, 2011

No wonder everyone is Confucius.
:)

Confucius say best way to save face, is to keep the lower part of it shut.
hush1
1 / 5 (1) May 31, 2011
lol
Confucius - the voice of experience.

Eth keeps dropping words in his paragraphs. He is testing us:
"This is only a test. In the case of a real event, you will be instructed to understand"
alarson
1 / 5 (1) May 31, 2011
I just came across this thread and some of you are remarkable, especially Ethelred. Unfortunately our science today has taken some wrong turns and it shows in these contributions. Relativity is where the rot started in our physics. Einstein was wrong. So let's start slowly. In chapt 9 of his book, Relativity, the Special and the General Theories, he proves that simultanity doesn't exist between two reference systems moving relative to one another. He uses a train, two observers, and an embankment, to prove it.
An observer, M, on the embankment sees light from a simultanous lighting strike at A and B. M is equidistant from, and in the middle of, points A and B. The light from A and B reach him at the same time. The stike is simultaneous because we specify it so, as we can do in a thought problem.

Now a train goes by and when its points A' and B' are opposite A and B, lightning again strikes and hits all the points simultanously and is again seen as such by M. The observer in the train, M', however (who doesn't know he is moving), sees the light from B' before A' because of the train's movement from A to B. The light from A' is playing catch-up. So Einstein says the two lightning flashes seen by M as simultaneous from A and B, were seen by M' as non-simultaneous from A' and B', due to his relative movement, and Einstein states that this non-simultanity is now proven.

Let's do what Einstein failed to do. We put two identical clocks (exactly as defined by Einstein in the previous chapter 8), at A' and B' on the train, and we stipulate they hold their time when struck by lightning. When the man, M', checks his clocks after the strike, he will then find that the clocks will be stopped at the exact same time, proving that his perception, that the light hit B' before A' was a real perception but it was wrong in that B' and A' were actually hit at the same time. The apparent difference was because he was moving, which he now realizes. And he also realizes that the lightning strikes on the train were simultaneous to the strikes on the embankment. (He can even determine his speed by use of the time difference.)

Relativity led to string theory and many other false trails. Non-simultanity is one of the most important foundation stones of Relativity. If simultaneity is wrong then Einstein's relativity is wrong. And you heard it here first. This is my intellectual property.

If aliens wanted to quarantine man to this small solar system forever until he goes extinct, just teach someone relativity. It's limits to speed relative to earth of, at or below light's speed, ensures we will never travel interstellar space because the distances are just too great for anything less than faster-than-light. And it is wrong!
Al
sstritt
3 / 5 (4) May 31, 2011
Non-simultanity is one of the most important foundation stones of Relativity. If simultaneity is wrong then Einstein's relativity is wrong. And you heard it here first. This is my intellectual property.

You did not just disprove relativity. If you give up non-simultaneity then you give up a constant speed of light. Observer M' sees non-simultaneous strikes. He is not wrong! There is no favored reference frame. His reality is as proper as any other.
Pyle
5 / 5 (4) May 31, 2011
Never mind the relativity of simultaneity, do any of you realize what alarson just did? He disproved the 1000 character posting limit!!!!

I want to learn that trick...

btw, alarson, yeah, relativistic frames aren't intuitive. Too bad the math for GR works so well and we have measured time dilation, otherwise you might be on to something.
hush1
1 / 5 (1) May 31, 2011
Non-simultanity is one of the most important foundation stones of Relativity.


QM's Empire strikes back! We have the Exclusion Principle. :P
hush1
3 / 5 (2) May 31, 2011
lol Pyle.
Yes. The 1000 character "Verschränkung". The evidence is compelling. Witness the birth of a new Era!
hush1
3 / 5 (2) May 31, 2011
We are speechless. At a loss for words.
jibbles
5 / 5 (2) Jun 01, 2011
folks, nodody's out there measuring electron dimples with magic calipers. they measured how spherically symmetric electrons interact with stuff. they found these interactions to be highly spherically symmetrical. the accuracy of this symmetry, translated into layman's terms, is *like* that of a solar-system-sized sphere whose imperfections are no more than a hair's width.
Ethelred
1 / 5 (1) Jun 01, 2011
Eth keeps dropping words in his paragraphs.
Yes. I have mentioned that I have a problem with that. They are in my head but they don't reach the page. I am contemplating trying Dragon Naturally but I would rather solve the problem. I don't want to spend the money and I am used to writing with my fingers.

Ethelred
Ethelred
1 / 5 (1) Jun 01, 2011
If simultaneity is wrong then Einstein's relativity is wrong.
It isn't. At least in that example as one of the clocks would be running at a different speed because they are moving.

Frankly the most interesting thing by far in that post was the character count which was over 2700. Which is 1700 over the limit.

This is my intellectual property.
The brontosaurus starts very small at one end then gets large in the middle and the gets small again. This is a Monty Python theory and they own it. They can keep it.

. It's limits to speed relative to earth of
No. Relative to an observer. In the case of SR a non-accelerating observer. And it has been confirmed in many tests.

More

and I am limited. I tried using the quote button with Alarson's post and it worked... right up till I adding something to what was in the comment box. Either he has magical powers or the site was buggered when he posted.
Ethelred
5 / 5 (1) Jun 01, 2011
And it is wrong!
Bullshit posts won't change reality and SR and GR have done awfully well in tests. If you want to look like something other than a complete crank, which we have a lot here, you need EVIDENCE and all the evidence is against you. How about you go look at the half life of muons for instance. If you can prove that have the same half life in an accelerator at nearly C as they do at a few hundred miles an hour then you win and Einstein loses. Unfortunately for you the test has been done and YOU lose not Einstein as the life span of a muon is much longer at close to C than at a near stop.

Do yourself a favor. Start going actual evidence. The evidence is available and overwhelmingly in Einsteins favor. Has been since he came up with the idea.

Ethelred
hush1
1 / 5 (1) Jun 01, 2011
Just one request. I know I have the approval of Erwin (Schrödinger). I insist that all world class, potential, Nobel prize seeking physicists drop the word "entanglement". Erwin's English just wasn't up to par that day, sorry. Nobody's perfect. From now on, all must use the words "shared enclosure". Believe me, nothing is entangled except your confusion from Erwin's shitty English.
And if you can't, won't, don't see the difference between "entanglement" and "shared enclosure" get out of physics now.
sstritt
3.9 / 5 (7) Jun 01, 2011
Frankly the most interesting thing by far in that post was the character count which was over 2700. Which is 1700 over the limit.

Perhaps the posting limit expands if the writer and reader are in different reference frames.
hush1
3 / 5 (2) Jun 04, 2011
Faith based postulates have no place in modern physics. Solid science once again pushes supersymmetry deeper into the ghostly shadows of speculation and the dark crevices of myth yet to be illuminated by the empirical method of experiment, observation and measurement.


Translation:
"Which is it, ladies and gentlemen? You have a choice. An important choice.

.1)You can start with the math. And the theory follows.
.2)You can start with the theory. And the math follows.

Then, take two aspirin, drink plenty of water, and call your experimentalist."

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