Physicists are facing a matter/antimatter conundrum: they can’t find a good reason to explain why the universe actually exists.
It sounds like a classic episode of classic Star Trek when someone inexplicably shuts down the warp engines, some imminent threat looms, and — right on cue — Scotty says: “Captain, I canna’ change the laws of physics.”
Gamma-ray bursts are the most intense, violent and powerful explosions in our universe, surpassed only by the Big Bang itself. Scientists know they exist; we’ve been tracking them for nearly 50 years. But the specific cause of these intense sources of energy has remained a mystery to us. Now, scientists have used telescopes to capture a gamma-ray burst as it happened, and they may have narrowed down exactly how they work.
Physicists from CERN, the world's leading physics research center, have finally achieved a long held goal in quantum physics: being able to see and measure antimatter atoms. Antimatter must exist according to laws of physics, but is notoriously difficult to measure and study.
Antimatter—particles with opposite charge, but otherwise identical to, and paired with, particles of regular matter—may sound like a science-fiction concept, but physicists believe it’s a fundamental product of the Big Bang, which occurred 13.7 billion years ago. Makoto C. Fujiwara, head of particle physics at TRIUMF, Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics, and a collaborator at CERN tells Second Nexus, “Physicists believe that anti-matter and matter are created in pairs, but we can’t find any antimatter in the universe in any substantial quantities.”
There is renewed chatter among physicists about a long-awaited discovery that may come some time this year: the observation of gravity waves. The anticipation is like the lead up to the release of The Force Awakens, but for high energy physicists rather than Star Wars fans. What might happen and what will it mean? And the stakes are high. If we can detect gravity waves, we can open the door to new theories about the fundamental nature of the Universe.
It has been one hundred years since Albert Einstein came up with his crowning intellectual achievement--the theory of relativity. That theory, published in 1915, posited that space and time are part of a single, interwoven continuum called spacetime. More importantly, spacetime itself is malleable and “warps” under the influence of matter. What we know as gravity is actually the bending of spacetime by objects with mass.