Static electricity works because electrons are strongly attracted to protons, right? But, in atoms, electrons are right there, next to the protons in the nucleus. Why don't the electrons zip directly into the nucleus and stick to the protons?
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A NASA-led study of the Van Allen radiation belts has uncovered new information about the invisible "shield" that keeps harmful ultrarelativistic electrons from the Earth. Just last year, the probes reported the existence of a new, previously-unknown third belt thousands of kilometres above the Earth.
Back in 1934, a team of physicists came up with an idea for how one might create matter from light. Put simply, just slam two photons into each other to get an electron and a positron, a.k.a. matter. And now, some 80 years later, a team of physicists have a plan to carry out the experiment in real life.
Last week, scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics published the most exact value ever observed for the weight of a single electron — a value 13 times more accurate than the previous estimate. And the Penning trap, the kooky looking device shown above, was crucial in obtaining this measurement.
Electrons are tiny little particles that whizz around atoms, right? Well, kinda, but they're actually far better understood as waves. Wait, what? If that makes you stop and scratch your head don't worry! Just watch this video, and you'll know everything you need to about the exciting world of electrons.
Until now, electrons have been regarded as elementary particles — which means that scientists thought they had no component parts or substructure. But, for the first time, electrons have been observed decaying into two separate parts — causing physicists to rethink what they know about the particles.
Stanford scientists have created designer electrons that behave as if they were exposed to a magnetic field of 60 Tesla — a force 30 per cent stronger than anything ever sustained on Earth. The work could lead to a revolution in the materials that make everything from video displays to aeroplanes to mobile phones.
It was only two years ago that IBM showed us an image of a complete molecule, atomic bonds and all, but today's news does that one infinitesimally-sized breakthrough better. Ladies and gents, behold the first image of an electron's path.
It's amazing what an electron can do. Researchers, lead by a team from the University of Pittsburg, have built the world's first operational single-electron transistor, the SketchSET, which could become an essential component of all sorts of futuristic technologies; from super-dense, high-capacity solid-state drives to quantum processors.