Getting a Grip on Antimatter
By Michael Schirber
posted: 31 August 2004
06:35 am ET
Research into what separates matter from antimatter is accelerating in particle physics experiments around the world. Scientists are hoping the difference will help explain why you, me and all the things around us are made of matter instead of its opposite.
Shortly after the Big Bang theoretically kicked off everything, the universe was a hot soup of equal parts matter and antimatter, scientists say. Why the former came to dominate is a question that physicists have yet to answer fully.
Recent results from the BaBar experiment in California have confirmed one departure between the two substances, but to solve the puzzle more deviations will have to be found.
"This was a very important step on the road to understanding the matter-antimatter asymmetry," said David MacFarlane, a physicist with the BaBar group. "This asymmetry is one of the fundamental questions of cosmology."
With equal mass but opposite electric charge, there are anti-particles that correspond to the proton, the electron, and the whole zoo of fundamental particles that physicists have so far catalogued.
Strange as they sound, these particles do exist, and they can be created. They just don't last long. If the existential partners come together, they completely annihilate each other
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