Latest in Science

Image credit:

Physicists learn how to measure antimatter

It could help us understand the nature of the universe.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
December 19, 2016
Share
Tweet
Share

Sponsored Links

As you might guess, measuring antimatter is rather tricky: it's destroyed the moment it comes into contact with regular matter, so conventional approaches just aren't going to cut it. Give credit to CERN, then, as its Alpha group just measured antimatter for the first time. The team stuffed positrons (positively charged electrons) and antiprotons (protons with a negative charge) into a vacuum tube to create antihydrogen, with a "magnetic trap" keeping a small number of the anti-atoms in existence for long enough to measure them. The team then blasted the antimatter with a laser to study its positrons as they shifted energy levels, producing a spectral line.

The results aren't shocking -- surprise, antihydrogen behaves much like regular hydrogen (just with reversed charges). If it didn't, scientists would have to rethink their understanding of physics. The very act of measuring is important, though. In addition to shedding light on the nature of antimatter, it also tells scientists something about the nature of the universe. In theory, matter and antimatter should have destroyed each other almost immediately. The new findings don't explain why that didn't happen, but they suggest that it isn't due to the inherent nature of those substances.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
Tweet
Share

Popular on Engadget

iPhone 12 and 12 Pro review: Apple enters the 5G era

iPhone 12 and 12 Pro review: Apple enters the 5G era

View
LG's rollable OLED TV goes on sale for $87,000

LG's rollable OLED TV goes on sale for $87,000

View
LG's latest 55-inch CX OLED smart TV is $500 off at Amazon

LG's latest 55-inch CX OLED smart TV is $500 off at Amazon

View
Google adds Nest Secure to its list of discontinued projects

Google adds Nest Secure to its list of discontinued projects

View
Apple will reportedly add 5G support for iPhone 12 in dual SIM mode

Apple will reportedly add 5G support for iPhone 12 in dual SIM mode

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr