“When antimatter and matter meet, they annihilate, and the result is light and nothing else. Given equal amounts of matter and antimatter, nothing would remain once the reaction was completed. As long as we don’t know why more matter exists than antimatter, we can’t know why the building blocks of anything else exist, either. This is one of the biggest unsolved problems in physics,” says quantum physicist Jens Oluf Andersen at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
From the afterglow of the Big Bang to the world’s premier particle accelerators to mystery particles beaming up from the South Pole, physicists are chasing down promising hints of new phenomena that would extend the standard model — a remarkably successful but incomplete physics theory that describes matter and forces.
Another amazing week of news from the Cosmos: from the New York Times’ Carl Zimmer on the origins of life and how it may have evolved on other worlds to the the creeping suspicion, that there is something substantial missing from our standard model of the Universe to Albert Einstein’s demon-haunted quantum world.
The discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012 has proved to be a source of rich speculation for particle physicists. In 2019, researchers proposed that three types of very high-energy Higgs Bosons, dubbed the “Higgs Troika”, may have played a role in ridding the infant universe of most of its antimatter. The Higgs boson may also reveal insights into the nature of dark matter and dark energy, the so-called “dark sector” that comprises 95% of the Universe.
“We know empirically that there is about one-billion times more matter than antimatter in the Universe and with the current physics we know, the Standard Model, this imbalance can’t be explained,” wrote MIT physicist Silviu-Marian Udrescu in an email to The Daily Galaxy. “To explain it,” he continues, “a violation of certain fundamental symmetries is required, but we have not observed the required violations yet. We don’t know the sources of this violation. We just know that these violations are required to explain the matter-antimatter asymmetry of the universe.