You probably learned all about atoms when you were a kid, and how they are made up of protons, neutrons and electrons – I certainly did. We were all taught how electrons were really tiny – in fact modern science predicts that they are so small it is totally impossible to measure their size, even if we had super-futuristic technology.
And until now, many people thought that it would also be impossible to take a photograph of an electron, because they are so inconceivably small.
But now, scientists in Sweden have done just that, creating a video of a single electron riding along a light wave. But wait a minute… if electrons are so small, how could you ever figure out how to video them?
The magic method involved using repeated flashes of light, each lasting 1 ‘attosecond‘ What’s an attosecond? Basically, it’s a measure of time so short that you could fit 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 attoseconds into a single second. In fact, one of the scientists on the team put it this way: an attosecond compared to a second is like a second compared to the entire lifetime of out universe. Wow – that’s a long time.
It was necessary to use such short pulses of light because, in simple terms, they had to try and image the electron before it moved away from where the camera was pointed at.
I think this new video could have monumental impacts for science – if we can film an electron, then what other subatomic particles can we film? I think we can expect some revolutionary new discoveries from projects like this one. We’re living in very exciting times for scientific research!
Check out the video – the reason it is not a perfect sphere is because of the different energy levels of the electron. This video has been slowed down immensely – it would last a fraction of a second in real life.
Filed under: Exploration, Nature, Science, Technology | Tagged: atom, atoms, attosecond, electron, electron film, electron photograph, electron picture, electron video, electrons, news, research, Sweden, video |