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Electron Filmed for the First Time
Now it is possible to see a movie of an electron. The movie shows how an electron rides on a light wave after just having been pulled away from an atom. This is the first time an electron has ever been filmed. Previously it has been impossible to photograph electrons since their extremely high velocities have produced blurry pictures. In order to capture these rapid events, extremely short flashes of light are necessary, but such flashes were not previously available.
With the use of a newly developed technology for generating short pulses from intense laser light, so-called attosecond pulses, scientists at the Lund University Faculty of Engineering in Sweden have managed to capture the electron motion for the first time. “It takes about 150 attoseconds for an electron to circle the nucleus of an atom. An attosecond is 10-18 seconds long, or, expressed in another way: an attosecond is related to a second as a second is related to the age of the universe,” says Johan Mauritsson, an assistant professor in atomic physics at the Faculty of Engineering, Lund University.
Scientists also hope to find out more about what happens with the rest of the atom when an inner electron leaves it, for instance how and when the other electrons fill in the gap that is created. “What we are doing is pure basic research. If there happen to be future applications, they will have to be seen as a bonus,” adds Johan Mauritsson. The length of the film corresponds to a single oscillation of the light, but the speed has then been ratcheted down considerably so that we can watch it. The filmed sequence shows the energy distribution of the electron and is therefore not a film in the usual sense.
Photo: Experimental results obtained in helium at an intensity of 1:2 x 10
distinctively different from those taken in argon (Fig. 1).With this higher intensity, more momentum is transferred to the electrons, and in combination with the lower initial energy, some electrons return to the atomic potential for further interaction. In the first panel, we compare the experimental results (right) with theoretical calculations (left) obtained for the same conditions.
Scientific Illiteracy and the Partisan Takeover of Biology by Liza Gross, Public Library of Science:
While the 17% figure does not amaze me I am surprised that the scientific literacy has doubled since 1979.
A comparison of science education achievement: International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (TIMSS), Average science scale scores of eighth-grade students, by country (2003), top 13 shown below: