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Scientists capture antimatter atoms for the first time

Bryan Alaspa's picture

Researchers at CERN, the particle physics laboratory in Geneva, have announced that they have captured antimatter atoms. This is the first time such atoms have ever been captured by anyone and it is considered to be a major breakthrough in understanding the origins of the universe.

The report from CERN scientists today stated that they had managed to capture a single antihydrogen particle in a magnetic trap. The revelation means that scientists will now be able to study antihydrogen which could lead to scientists being able to compare matter and antimatter.

Antimatter believed part of the Big Bang

Antimatter has been something scientists have theorized about and have been trying to prove for a long time. Most scientists believe that when the Big Bang created the universe it created all matter, but also created the opposite of matter, known as antimatter. By understanding antimatter, which seems to have vanished as matter continued to expand and develop, scientists believe they can understand why most of the universe is comprised of matter.

The problem with finding antimatter is that antimatter and matter usually destroy each other when they end up in the same place at the same time. Back in 2002, the CERN scientists were able to produce antihydrogen in mass quantities, as a precursor to eventually capturing and studying antimatter.

The numbers involved were still unbelievably small. The scientists were able to create more antihydrogen atoms, 38 of them, and then hold onto them using a magnetic trap. The life of the atoms was therefore stretched to about a tenth of a second. That amazingly short amount of time is enough for scientists to study them.

In order to create the 38 antihydrogen atoms, the scientists had to recreate their experiment 335 times. According to one of the scientist, it was “ten thousand times more difficult than creating untrapped antihydrogen atoms.” The scientist also said the discovery and study of the antimatter atoms will help them understand the very structure of space and time.

Antimatter had first been predicted by a scientist named Paul Dirac, of Great Britain, back in 1931.

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