News of the WeekQuantum Physics

Loopy Electron Model Solves Ion Mystery

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Science  04 May 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5518, pp. 823-825
DOI: 10.1126/science.292.5518.823b

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Newton's laws usually fly out the window in the subatomic realm. But now, an international team of scientists has shown that a nearly Newtonian set of electron orbits can explain a puzzling phenomenon discovered a decade ago in which atoms zapped by high-energy lasers absorb far more energy than, on the face of it, atomic theory should allow. On page 902, the researchers show that a Newtonian approach suggested by physicist Richard Feynman holds the key to solving the mystery of the superionized atoms.