Scientists from Germany announced on Wednesday that they had been successful in developing the most precise tool ever in measuring the mass of an electron.
Electrons are negatively-charged particles that orbits around the nucleus of an atom. Together with protons, electrons can influence the structure and the state of an element and are acknowledged as one of the building blocks of matter.
Electrons were first observed in 1897 by British scientist Joseph John ("J.J.") Thomson, who gave them the name, "corpuscles". The name was then changed to electrons as a reference to their electrical charge.
The discovery was made by study leader Sven Sturm from the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg. Sturm's team calculated the mass of the electrons through the use of equipment called Penning trap. This device works by storing an atom's charged particles in a field which has both electrical and magnetic charges. The calculation made by Sturm's team recorded the mass of an electron as 0.000548579909067, relative to the atom's mass unit. The atomic mass unit is the standard measurement unit used for all particles.
The calculation made by Sturm is 13 times more accurate than past attempts to measure the mass of an electron. "This result lays the foundation for future fundamental physics experiments and precision tests of the Standard Model," a statement from the study says.
This new measurement tool can be a useful equipment for scientists especially those who are trying to test the "Standard Model" of physics. The Standard Model is a theory explaining how and why particles and forces in the Universe react the way they do. This, by far, is the most accepted theory explaining quantum physics and has served as a guideline for physicists studying quantum particles.
The study was published in the Feb. 19 issue of Nature.
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