The Electron's Other Charge: Workhorse of electricity shows its weak side | Science News

Real Science. Real News.

Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.


News

The Electron's Other Charge: Workhorse of electricity shows its weak side

By
9:41am, April 29, 2004

Nothing is more emblematic of an electron than its negative charge. It's the trait that determines how the particle behaves in electromagnetic environments, such as a wire's electric field and Earth's magnetic field.

Yet physicists have long known that electrons also respond to a nuclear force, called the weak force, that's responsible for radioactive decay. Now, researchers have directly measured that weak force between pairs of electrons. In so doing, they've determined another kind of charge on the electron, its weak charge.

The fact that electrons, which aren't nuclear particles, respond to a nuclear force at all stems from a deep connection between the electromagnetic and weak forces (SN: 10/16/99, p. 247).

The new results come from experiments at the Stanford (Calif.) Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC). They show that the weak force between electrons is less than a millionth the strength of the electromagnetic force, says Krishna S. Kumar of the University of

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content