CERN Zeroes In on the ‘Great Antimatter Mystery’

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The question of whether normal matter's shadowy counterpart anti-matter exerts a kind of "anti-gravity" is soonto be answered, according to researchers at the University of California Riverside, who are getting closer to addressing the question once and for all. The team says it has prepared stable pairs of electrons and their anti-matter particles, positrons. A beam of these pairs can be used to finally solve the anti-gravity puzzle.


Current physics holds that, at the birth of the Universe, matter and anti-matter were created in equal amounts, but when they intersect, they destroy each other in energetic flashes of light.Which begs the question of why did any Universe come into being at all, and why is the one we see overwhelmingly made of normal matter?

One of the attributes that may differentiate anti-matter is its gravitational behavior. Most scientists believe that anti-matter will be attracted to normal matter.

Elsewhere, a team at CERN's Large Hadron Collider theorize that anti-matter may repel – it may "fall up," which has implications for the question of why the Universe didn't disappear into a gigantic  flash of light just as soon as it formed and might also help explain why the Universe is expanding ever more quickly.

They have created electron-positron pairs that are in stable orbits around one another – a positronium in which the pairs are kept from bumping into and destroying each other by carefully dumping energy into them to create what are known as "Rydberg states," where particles can move into different orbits around one another if they reach higher energies. These Rydberg positronium atoms are spun up to high energies, lasting for a comparatively long three billionths of a second.

The CERN LHC team hopes to extend the method, up to a few thousandths of a second, preparing a beam of the artificial atoms and observing  which way they fall.

The Daily Galaxy via CERN and bbc.co.uk/news

Image credit: Leonid Butov/UCSD

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