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Antimatter is the new black

A recent New York Times article explains Physicists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory are reporting that they have discovered a new clue that could help unravel one of the biggest mysteries of cosmology: why the universe is composed of matter and not its evil-twin opposite, antimatter.

That’s a lot to wrap your head around.  Luckily, the nerd-loving Verb Vixen was able to break it down for us.  Here’s the scoop:

OK so you know that everything on earth and in the universe is made of matter right?  That is 3rd grade science.  Well, physicists also posit the existance of anti-matter, which is the opposite of matter; it’s equal but opposite like yin and yang, positive and negative magnets, peanut butter and jelly. (It is also the bad science stuff that they try to destroy the Vatican with in Angels and Demons). You get it.  Anyway when matter and anti-matter meet they destroy each other, returning nature to a neutral balance.  So basically, at the Big Bang an equal number of matter and anti-matter should have been created, but clearly wasnt, because well, HELLO we and the universe exist full of matter!  

SO this team at the Fermi labs have been trying to figure out WHY we exist, why anti-matter didnt destroy matter at the big bang the way it should have.  What it boils down to is this really cool subatomic particle they found called muon.  Its like a super heavy electron and it seems that muons are produced more often then anti-muons. In the mini universe they created in the particle accelerator, there was 1% more matter created then anti-matter because of the muon anti-muon difference.  So expand this percentage out to something as massive as the Big Bang and you understand why we exist and anti-matter didnt win the day.  Classic good wins over evil.

There’s more to the theory involving neutral B-mesons, the spin and charges of subatomic particles, and something called the CP violation but thats really in depth science.  Suffice it to say that this part of the theory hinges on neutral B-mesons being able to go from anti-matter state to matter state more quickly than matter to anti-matter.  Thus matter once again dominates.

Make sense?

I think so.  We’ll take your word for it.


3 Responses

  1. I saw this blurb and thought it was interesting but didn’t really know what it was saying exactly…provided what you summize is correct this is really interesting. Thanks!

    PS can you explain, if equal parts antimatter and matter should have meant a total draw, what would have happened had there actually ended up wih more antimatter? Would we all have mustaches and tails? 🙂

  2. This made my head hurt. So, when does the new collider make us all go away?

  3. Hmmm very interesting quesiton Dan. If anti-matter won the day, everything would be different. I can’t even begin to imagine we would exist in such a climate. Instead I would like to think of it the universe imploding in on itself, rather than expanding out. Like a huge black hole.

    @Decce. The large hadron collider could be up and running as early as the end of summer for light trials, but it won’t be ready to begin the real study until 2011.

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