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Electrons are almost perfectly round, scientists discover
03 : 54 PM - 26/05/2011
Slug: UK-Discovery

London, May. 26 (BNA) -- Electrons may be the most round natural objects in the universe, a study has discovered.

The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported today that researchers at Imperial College London have made the most accurate measurement yet of the shape of an electron, finding that it is almost a perfect sphere.
Experts found that the subatomic particles differ from being perfectly round by less than 0.000000000000000000000000001cm. In layman’s terms, this means that if an electron was magnified to the size of the solar system, it would still appear spherical to within the width of a human hair.
Using a laser, they made measurements of the motion of these electrons, looking for any distinctive wobbles which would suggest that the shape of the molecule was distorted – as would occur if the electrons were not perfectly round. The team observed no such imperfections during experiments spanning more than a decade.
The results are important in the study of antimatter, an elusive substance that behaves in the same way as ordinary matter, except that it has an opposite electrical charge. Understanding the shape of the electron could help researchers understand how positrons behave and how antimatter and matter differ.
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.
"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."

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