Scientists will soon drop Antimatter to see how it behaves in gravity



The ALPHA experiment at CERN
Photo: CERN

Antimateri continues to behave like ordinary matter, regardless of which tests scientists throw about it. And in spite of another new challenge, antimatter refused to crack again.

In a new study physicists tried to find differences between matter and antimatter – confusing, also a kind of matter, but with the opposite charge and other differences. It is just a bad twin. Confusingly, the universe has much more matter than antimatter, for no apparent reason. Physicists have not found the specific differences they were looking for when studying the antimatter version of hydrogen called anti-hydrogen, but they have shown a way to study antimatter better than ever.

Physicists group the matter of the universe in different ways, but the one who may have aroused the most interest from us, non-physicists, is ordinary matter versus antimatter. Each particle has an anti-particle with the same mass but opposite charge (and other properties), such as the mirror image. Immediately after the Big Bang, there should have been an equal amount of matter and antimatter particles. When the two meet, they destroy in energy, making people say things like "the universe should not exist." But for some reason, the particles that make you, me, the earth, the sun, and pretty much everything we see are mostly ordinary things. Only one in every billion particles in the universe is antimatter, according to CERN.

"The antimatter physics community is trying to find the difference between matter and antimatter in different angles," Gunn Khatri, a physicist at CERN who was not involved in the new study, told Gizmodo: "Every step that is taken is us bring closer to answer one question.: & # 39; Why is antimatter so less common than regular matter? & # 39; "

Scientists who want to understand antimatter have a tool at their disposal that is called the Antiproton Decelerator at CERN. This machine produces and delays the antimatter counterpart of the proton. ALPHA (the Antihydrogen Laser Physics Apparatus) combines these antiprotons with positrons, the antimatter counterpart of electrons, to form an anti-hydrogen atom.

As soon as the researchers capture the anti-hydrogen atoms, they scan them in the same way that they could study a regular atom. For each round of the experiment, ALPHA scientists shot 500 anti-hydrogen atoms with laser pulses, allowing the electrons of the atoms to enter a higher energy state. The electrons then fall down again and the anti-hydrogen atoms emit photons with a characteristic wavelength. This is the well-known Lyman-alpha transition, often used in astronomy to study objects at a very distant distance.

The researchers measured the photons that came out, and they were essentially the same as the wavelengths that you would expect from a normal hydrogen atom, according to the study published in Nature. At this point, researchers continue to see that properties that they hoped to differ between matter and antimatter appear to be the same. But this experiment has an important second use: "We want to use it to do anti-hydrogen laser cooling," Jeffrey Hangst, ALPHA's spokesman at CERN in Switzerland, told Gizmodo. "This is the first demonstration" that their new laser cooling method is feasible in experiments.

Physicists use lasers to capture and cool atoms to temperatures that are extremely close to absolute zero. Observing the electron that generates an energy level and releases photons in response to a laser pulse in anti-hydrogen is a "decisive technological step", according to the newspaper. It shows that scientists will soon be able to laser-cool antimatter atoms. This allows them to perform more precise measurements.

ALPHA, for example, will soon be upgraded with equipment with which it can drop anti-hydrogen atoms to see if they handle gravity differently than hydrogen atoms. This will be another important test.

This has nothing to do with CERN's transport-antimatter-with-a-truck people, but it's still important research. Any difference between antimatter and regular matter will ultimately help us determine why the matter of the universe has not been destroyed until after the Big Bang. People like Hangst do not know what they will find in their experiments, but every new result makes them keep searching.

Said Hangst: "We are just behind the truth."

[Nature]

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