Scientists have mapped the probable paths of electrons, have manipulated individual atoms to make nano-structures, but until now, no one has actually seen atoms vibrating their little butts off inside a molecule.
A couple weeks ago, we told you about how single-atom thick wires could overcome the resistance bottleneck so that transistors can keep getting smaller and smaller, and now IBM keeps things on itty bitty scale by managing to pack a single bit of data on just twelve atoms.
Microscopes have gotten really good over the years. How good? Just two years ago, IBM was showing off pictures of individual atoms and now we’ve got our first look at electron orbitals. Damn, they really do look just like the drawings of electron orbitals you probably had to do in high school chemistry.
There are plenty of things in nature that are spherical, but very few perfect spheres. As it turns out however, if you were wondering, that electrons are perfect spheres. Okay, so they’re like 99.9999% spherical, but to you and I that’s a perfect sphere. Scientists are just so fucking picky about that shit.
Currently, information is stored in a “computer” with “binary”… 1s and 0s tastefully arranged to give the illusion of data. Electrons by their very nature are also binary, either spinning one way or the other. Electrons are also really, really, really tiny, and using their spin to encode information can double memory usage and conserve power.
Fucking electrons are dodgy little things, zipping about in their little clouds of probability, not giving a crap about you, but so essential to matter. Until now, we haven’t been able to see the damn specks. But this is the future, so now we can actually watch them oscillate thanks to scientists in Germany and the US.
Protons are the building blocks of atoms and their size plays an absolutely crucial role in the 60 year old theory of quantum electrodynamics, which is the cornerstone of the Standard Model of particle physics. Now it turns out the damn things are smaller than we thought. Oops.