Thursday, June 9, 2011

Science:  Scientists 'Trap' And Study Elusive Anti-Matter

At the moment of the big bang, nearly 14 billion years ago, matter and anti-matter are thought to have existed in equal quantities. If that balance had persisted, the observable Universe we inhabit would never have come into being.

For unknown reasons -- and fortunately for us -- Nature seemed to have a slight preference for matter, and today anti-matter is rare.

Scientists used CERN's high-energy accelerator to create the antihydrogen atoms, and then chilled them to near-zero temperatures.

The aim is to use laser and microwave spectroscopy to compare the immobilised particles to their hydrogen counterparts.

The same team succeeded last year in trapping dozens of anti-matter atoms and holding them in place for a fraction of a second, a world first at the time.

But that was not long enough for the excitable particles to settle into the stable "ground" state needed for precise measurements.

The new benchmark extended this storage time 5,000 fold, making it possible to carry out crucial experiments.

Scientists will now look for "violations" or discrepancies in something called the charge-parity-time reversal (CPT) symmetry.

For more, see Scientists 'Trap' And Study Elusive Anti-Matter, June 6, 2011 at The Telegraph.

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