Scientists in Germany said Wednesday they had made the most precise measurement yet of the mass of the electron, one of the building blocks of matter.
The feat should provide a useful tool for scientists testing the "Standard Model" of physics -- the most widely-accepted theory of the particles and forces that comprise the Universe, they said.
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Electrons are particles with a negative electrical charge that orbit the nucleus of an atom.
They were discovered in 1897 by Britain's Joseph John ("J.J.") Thomson, who dubbed them "corpuscles" -- a name later changed to "electron" because of its connection with electrical charge.
A team led by Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg "weighed" electrons using a device called a Penning trap, which stores charged particles in a combination of magnetic and electrical fields.
They measured a single electron that was bound to a carbon nucleus whose mass was already known.
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