A Brief History of the Electron’s Shape – Part 3: How My Small College Measured the Electron’s Shape

When we left off last time, we were in the middle of a drought: over two decades of no improvement in the upper limit of the electron EDM from that found by the last of the cesium beam experiments in 1968: This was not a bad number at all. In fact, using the classical electron … Continue reading “A Brief History of the Electron’s Shape – Part 3: How My Small College Measured the Electron’s Shape”

A Brief History of the Electron’s Shape – Part 2: The First “Golden Age”

Last week, we talked about how the pioneering papers in the 1950s and 60s of Purcell, Ramsey, and Sandars started off the decades-long search for imperfection in the electron’s shape, or the electron electric dipole moment (eEDM). This week, we’re going to cover some of the early beam experiments dedicated to measuring the electron EDM. … Continue reading “A Brief History of the Electron’s Shape – Part 2: The First “Golden Age””

A Brief History of the Electron’s Shape – Part 1: Origins

As I’ve shared in a series of blog posts, I currently work on an experiment measuring the electric dipole moment (or EDM) of the electron. Colloquially, we like to call it the “shape” of the electron. (To be a little bit more accurate, it’s really the shape of the electric field produced by the electron.) … Continue reading “A Brief History of the Electron’s Shape – Part 1: Origins”

How Tabletop Experiments Could be the Future of Particle Physics

Just this week an article in Nature was published featuring the new activities that the Gabrielse lab (where I work) is starting up at the newly-found Center for Fundamental Physics at Northwestern. In particular, the article highlights the growing importance of relatively small-scale “tabletop” experiments like ACME to probe for new physics beyond the Standard … Continue reading “How Tabletop Experiments Could be the Future of Particle Physics”

Guide to the ACME EDM Experiment: Why CP Violation Might Explain Everything About the Universe

Why should we care about the existence of the electron electric dipole moment (EDM)? In a previous post, we established that the existence of an electron EDM would imply a violation of a symmetry in physics called CP-symmetry, or CP violation (CPV). But it isn’t clear why CPV has any importance beyond being something interesting … Continue reading “Guide to the ACME EDM Experiment: Why CP Violation Might Explain Everything About the Universe”

Guide to the ACME EDM Experiment: Symmetries in Physics

In this series so far, we’ve discussed a lot about the physics of the ACME EDM experiment: the atomic physics methods we use to look for a small asymmetry in the electron’s charge distribution. However, we’ve never tackled the big question directly: why does the electron’s charge distribution matter at all? The precision achieved on the … Continue reading “Guide to the ACME EDM Experiment: Symmetries in Physics”

Guide to the ACME EDM Experiment: Differential Measurements to the Extreme

In our overview of the ACME experiment, we outlined the broad method of the experiment: we measure the deformation in the shape of the electron by performing spin precession on the molecule ThO. In the post about atomic structure, we outlined the basics of energy levels in a molecule, as well as that of ThO itself. … Continue reading “Guide to the ACME EDM Experiment: Differential Measurements to the Extreme”

Review: A PhD Is Not Enough

Since I decided to become an aspiring physicist back in high school, looking for tips and advice on what to do has been a valuable resource to me. One of the first guides I read that I think is still very valuable today, is ZapperZ’s So You Want to Be a Physicist. It gives extremely practical … Continue reading “Review: A PhD Is Not Enough”