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.”
Until recently, all particle physics measurements fit the predictions of the Standard Model, a widely-accepted framework describing subatomic particles and how they interact. Scientists at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest and strongest particle collider, study subatomic particles by smashing them together at speeds close to the speed of light and observing the results.
A bunch of protons walk into a bar. One turns to the others and says, “Is it just me or are we all on the verge of a breakdown?”
Protons are once again breaking down in the name of scientific discovery. In early April, preliminary test runs of the retooled Large Hadron Collider (LHC) began generating renewed excitement among physicists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). CERN is the research campus near Geneva, Switzerland, where the LHC, a circular tunnel with a circumference of 27 kilometers (17 miles), is buried underground at an average depth of 100 meters (328 feet).