image credit: Dave Whyte
“You know, it would be sufficient to really understand the electron.” – Albert Einstein as quoted by Hans G. Dehmelt in his 1989 Nobel lecture.
Hans G. Dehmelt recently passed away on March 7, 2017. His team was the first one to isolate a single electron in a Penning trap to measure its properties. He shared the 1989 Nobel Prize in Physics with Wolfgang Paul and Norman F. Ramsey.
“A Penning trap is a device for the storage of charged particles using a homogeneous axial magnetic field and an inhomogeneous quadrupole electric field. This kind of trap is particularly well suited to precision measurements of properties of ions and stable subatomic particles. Geonium atoms have been created and studied this way, to measure the electron magnetic moment. Recently these traps have been used in the physical realization of quantum computation and quantum information processing by trapping qubits. Penning traps are used in many laboratories worldwide. For example, at CERN to store antimatter like antiprotons.” – Wikipedia
After all these years electron still is a mystery. We have built a civilization based on the manipulation of electrons without knowing what electron is.
In an earlier post I mentioned Frank Wilczek’s article titled “What is an electron?” He concludes that article with this paragraph:
“Conclusion: No Conclusion. So, what is an electron? An electron is a particle, and a wave; it is ideally simple, and unimaginably complex; it is precisely understood, and utterly mysterious; it is rigid, and subject to creative disassembly. No single answer does justice to reality. ” – Frank Wilczek
Frank Wilczek shared the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics with David J. Gross, H. David Politzer for the discovery of asymptotic freedom in the theory of the strong interactions.
You can examine the properties of electron at the electron page at PDG.
There are countless researchers and approaches to the electron mystery. I cannot do justice to all. I will simply list some of the earlier posts in this context.
(Neutrino-less) Charged lepton flavor violation has never been observed