Look at an Electron on its Own Time Scale

It has been known for years that one could use a laser beam to nudge a single electron away from its parent atom, if one was so inclined. What happens to that electron immediately afterward is not as clear. For all we know, the electron in question zooms off, travels to a star a billion light years away, severely traumatizes a bunch of innocent hydrogen atoms, and returns to its starting location. Admittedly unlikely, but electrons are capable of funny things. Until now, it's simply been impossible to view events in small enough time frames to get an idea of how they unfold.

Full story here.

This is a momentous occasion. Being able to look at an event that happens almost instantaneously will give a better view of the strange world of quantum mechanics. This is a world where the real and imaginary are equally important, where things exist in two places at once, where things pop in and out of existence seemingly at random. It is a place where nothingness is full of energy, and matter itself is made of mostly nothing. A strange place, but also an important one: the denizens of this realm control all of existence itself. To understand the largest and most complex issues, one must first understand the smallest and most unpredictable.

By being able to break time into small enough pieces, we can get a better view of the universe. An important question remains though: is time infinitely divisible? Or is there some elementary, minimum size to time? If the latter is the case, how do we describe events that take place faster than the minimum?

No Comments Yet.

Leave a comment