Once upon a time there was J.J. Thompson, and in 1897 along with his intrepid team of laboratory explorers he discovered the electron by playing about with cathode rays. For a long time, electrons were thought of as little balls which orbited the nucleus of atoms, as in the picture here.

Then the electron cloud model came trotting in on the heels of Thompson's discovery, but as you can see from this forum at

Universe Today gives a rather clearer picture of what the electron cloud model actually is, and explains how and why it does away with the orbital-balls idea.

Then the electron cloud model came trotting in on the heels of Thompson's discovery, but as you can see from this forum at

*Ask Jeeves*, there is a bit of confusion as to how it actually came into being.Universe Today gives a rather clearer picture of what the electron cloud model actually is, and explains how and why it does away with the orbital-balls idea.

The electron cloud model went so far in taking the scientific imagination away from billiard balls. But without any clues as to alternative 'shapes', the electron remained a complete mystery. The mid-1900s saw other concepts come in, such as zero-point, linking Heisenberg's uncertainty principle to electron behaviour, and thus to quantum behaviour at large. Uncertainty for the scientist is another word for 'fuzzy', meaning that you can't tell where it is precisely, you can only guess where it might roughly be. Thus the human and the electron reached an empasse, with neither sure what the other would do next.

Suddenly, very suddenly indeed in fact, things have started to get really interesting. Blame the Dark Matter hunt if you like - I can happily blame it for almost anything happening in physics at the moment.

Here in this new landscape, there are butterflies instead of billiard balls. This is an image of Hofstadter's Butterfly, a fractal representation of electron movement in a magnetic field. The problem is, nobody can quite get a handle on netting this butterfly, and in true human spirit, they won't be sure it exists until they've got it under a glass case.

Bate your breath, because slamming in out of nowhere, all of a sudden, enters the Amplutihedron, which blasts the dust off our explorer's bush hat and flicks the calculator right out of his hands. The Amplutihedron is big potatoes. I'm choosing to quote from Quanta Magazine because I think this paragraph neatly sums up the reason why

I'm likening this beautiful object to a quantum rail gun:

"The new geometric version of quantum field theory could facilitate the search for a theory of quantum gravity that would seamlessly connect the large- and small-scale pictures of the universe. Attempts thus far to incorporate gravity into the laws of physics at the quantum scale have run up against nonsensical infinities and deep paradoxes.

The amplituhedron, or a similar geometric object, could help by removing two deeply rooted principles of physics:

Locality is the notion that particles can interact only from adjoining positions in space and time. And unitarity holds that the probabilities of all possible outcomes of a quantum mechanical interaction must add up to one. The concepts are the central pillars of quantum field theory in its original form, but in certain situations involving gravity, both break down, suggesting neither is a fundamental aspect of nature."

I'm likening this beautiful object to a quantum rail gun:

"The new geometric version of quantum field theory could facilitate the search for a theory of quantum gravity that would seamlessly connect the large- and small-scale pictures of the universe. Attempts thus far to incorporate gravity into the laws of physics at the quantum scale have run up against nonsensical infinities and deep paradoxes.

The amplituhedron, or a similar geometric object, could help by removing two deeply rooted principles of physics:

**locality and unitarity.**Locality is the notion that particles can interact only from adjoining positions in space and time. And unitarity holds that the probabilities of all possible outcomes of a quantum mechanical interaction must add up to one. The concepts are the central pillars of quantum field theory in its original form, but in certain situations involving gravity, both break down, suggesting neither is a fundamental aspect of nature."

**Out of the box. That's where our future lies; on the infinite beauty of truth our future depends.**