April 5 (UPI) — Physicists have achieved the most precise measurement of antimatter yet.
And yet, the cosmos’ biggest mystery remains unsolved: why do we exist?
As part of the ALPHA experiment, scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research synthesized and measured the spectral properties of 15,000 atoms of antihydrogen. Each antihydrogen particle is made up of an antiproton orbited by a positron.
When scientists compared the spectral signatures of anithydrogen and hydrogen atoms, they found the patterns at each wavelength were the exact same. When hit with laser beams, both anithydrogen and hydrogen atoms absorbed the same frequencies of light.
Until now, scientists had not been able to create and trap sufficient amounts of anithydrogen to make spectral measurements precise enough to compare to those of hydrogen atoms.
“The precision achieved in the latest study is the ultimate accomplishment for us,” Jeffrey Hangst, spokesperson for the ALPHA experiment, said in a news release. “We have been trying to achieve this precision for 30 years and have finally done it.”
The Stand Model of physics posits that the Big Bang theory yielded equal parts matter and antimatter, and yet the universe appears to made almost entirely of matter. The antimatter remains missing.
And yet, if antimatter is hiding somewhere, the latest findings — published this week in the journal Nature — suggest that all the matter in the universe should, in theory, be canceled.
Which begs the question: why are we here?
For some reason, it appears only antimatter survived the birth of the universe. But scientists don’t know why. Researchers at CERN, however, are confident that they’re getting closer to providing answers.
“This is real laser spectroscopy with antimatter, and the matter community will take notice,” Hangst said. “We are realizing the whole promise of CERN’s AD facility; it’s a paradigm change.”