Nav: Home

New antimatter breakthrough to help illuminate mysteries of the Big Bang

December 20, 2016

Swansea University scientists working at CERN have made a landmark finding, taking them one step closer to answering the question of why matter exists and illuminating the mysteries of the Big Bang and the birth of the Universe.

In their paper published in Nature the physicists from the University's College of Science, working with an international collaborative team at CERN, describe the first precision study of antihydrogen, the antimatter equivalent of hydrogen.

Professor Mike Charlton said: "The existence of antimatter is well established in physics, and it is buried deep in the heart of some of the most successful theories ever developed. But we have yet to answer a central question of why didn't matter and antimatter, which it is believed were created in equal amounts when the Big Bang started the Universe, mutually self-annihilate?

"We also have yet to address why there is any matter left in the Universe at all. This conundrum is one of the central open questions in fundamental science, and one way to search for the answer is to bring the power of precision atomic physics to bear upon antimatter."

It has long been established that any excited atom will reach its lowest state by emitting photons, and the spectrum of light emitted from them represents a kind of atomic fingerprint and it is a unique identifier. The most familiar everyday example is the orange of the sodium streetlights.

Hydrogen has its own spectrum and, as the simplest and most abundant atom in the Universe, it holds a special place in physics. The properties of the hydrogen atom are known with high accuracy, and one in particular, the so-called 1S-2S transition has been determined with a precision close to one part in a hundred trillion - equivalent to knowing the distance between Swansea and London to about a billionth of a metre!

Now in these latest experiments, the team have replaced the proton nucleus of the ordinary atom by an antiproton, and the electron substitute is the positron. By shining laser light at a well-defined frequency onto antihydrogen atoms held in a trap, they have seen that some of them get excited to an upper level, and in so doing leave the trap. This very first experiment has already determined the frequency of the antihydrogen transition to a few parts in a tenth of a billion.

Professor Mike Charlton added: "To get some sense of the importance of this discovery, we need to understand that it has been 30 years in the making and represents the collaborative work of hundreds of researchers over the years. Enquiries into this area of physics started in the 1980s and this landmark achievement has now opened the door to precision studies of atomic antimatter, which will hopefully bring us closer to answering the question of why matter exists to help solve the mystery as to how the Universe came about."
-end-


The Swansea team are:


Academic: Professor Mike Charlton, Dr Stefan Eriksson, Dr Aled Isaac, Professor Niels Madsen, Professor Dirk Peter van der Werf
Research Fellows: Dr Chris Baker and Dr Dan Maxwell
Post-Graduate students: Steven Armstrong Jones and Muhammed Sameed

http://www.nature.com/news/ephemeral-antimatter-atoms-pinned-down-in-milestone-laser-test-1.21193

Swansea University

Related Big Bang Articles:

'Big Food' companies have less power than you might think
A Dartmouth study finds that 'Big Food' companies are striving to make food more sustainable from farm to factory but have less power than you might think.
Looking for signs of the Big Bang in the desert
The Simons Observatory will be built in the Chilean Atacama desert for the purposes of studying primordial gravitational waves which originated in the first instants of the Big Bang.
More bang for the buck
Researchers find cost-effective solutions to sediment runoff and other land-based pollution affecting West Maui reefs
Big data for the universe
Astronomers at Lomonosov Moscow State University in cooperation with their French colleagues and with the help of citizen scientists have released 'The Reference Catalog of galaxy SEDs,' which contains value-added information about 800,000 galaxies.
Can big data yield big ideas? Blend novel and familiar, new study finds
Struggling to get your creative juices flowing for a new idea or project?
Why big brains are rare
Do big-brained creatures steal energy for them from other organs or eat more to supply this expensive tissue?
New antimatter breakthrough to help illuminate mysteries of the Big Bang
Swansea University physicists working with an international collaborative team at CERN, conduct the first precision study of antihydrogen, the antimatter equivalent of hydrogen.
Big data for little creatures
A multi-disciplinary team of researchers at UC Riverside has received $3 million from the National Science Foundation Research Traineeship program to prepare the next generation of scientists and engineers who will learn how to exploit the power of big data to understand insects.
How we escaped from the Big Bang
A Griffith University physicist is challenging the conventional view of space and time to show how the world advances through time.
Big PanDA tackles big data for physics and other future extreme scale scientific applications
A team of physicists just received $2.1 million in funding for 2016-2017 from DOE's Advanced Scientific Computing Research program to enhance a 'workload management system' for handling the ever-increasing data demands of two experiments at the Large Hadron Collider and expanding its use as a general workload management service for a Department of Energy supercomputer.

Related Big Bang Reading:

Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe
by Simon Singh (Author)

A half century ago, a shocking Washington Post headline claimed that the world began in five cataclysmic minutes rather than having existed for all time; a skeptical scientist dubbed the maverick theory the Big Bang. In this amazingly comprehensible history of the universe, Simon Singh decodes the mystery behind the Big Bang theory, lading us through the development of one of the most extraordinary, important, and awe-inspiring theories in science.

View Details


Genesis and the Big Bang: The Discovery Of Harmony Between Modern Science And The Bible
by Gerald Schroeder (Author)

In this groundbreaking book, physicist Gerald Schroeder takes on skeptics from both sides of the cosmological debate, arguing that science and the Bible are not at odds concerning the origin of the universe. View Details


George and the Big Bang (George's Secret Key)
by Stephen Hawking (Author), Lucy Hawking (Author), Garry Parsons (Illustrator)

Explore how the universe began—and thwart evil along the way—in this cosmic adventure from Stephen and Lucy Hawking that includes a graphic novel.

George has problems. He has twin baby sisters at home who demand his parents’ attention. His beloved pig Freddy has been exiled to a farm, where he’s miserable. And worst of all, his best friend, Annie, has made a new friend whom she seems to like more than George. So George jumps at the chance to help Eric with his plans to run a big experiment in Switzerland that seeks to explore the earliest moment of the universe. But... View Details


The Big Bang to Now: All of Time in Six Chunks
by Terry Herman Sissons Ph.D (Author)

If you are among the many who think of billions, or a hundred thousand, or tens of millions of years ago as all just “a very very long time ago,” The Big Bang to Now: All of Time in Six Chunks will be an enlightening surprise. Terry Sissons divides time into six chunks - fewer numbers than are in a telephone number - to create a review of the 13.7 billion years of all of time. The surprise is that learning just these six chunks can transform one’s understanding of time from grand confusion to quite amazing clarity. The Big Bang to Now is not packed with dense pages detailing what... View Details


2018 The Big Bang Theory Wall Calendar (Day Dream)
by Day Dream (Author)

Spend the year with your favorite geniuses…. and friends, including Sheldon, Leonard, Howard, Raj, Penny, Amy, and Bernadette. View Details


Before the Big Bang (Kindle Single)

The Big Bang was not the beginning of time. Before the Big Bang, there was a tiny fraction of a second during which a process called inflation expanded a seed much smaller than the nucleus of an atom into a fireball the size of a basketball -- the Big Bang itself. From this fireball, the Universe as we know it developed. The origin of the seed from which the Universe began is not known with certainty, but as John Gribbin explains the most likely explanation is that it was a fluctuation of quantum energy in an eternal sea of cosmic energy. And that means that other seeds must surely have... View Details


Big Bang!: The Tongue-Tickling Tale of a Speck That Became Spectacular
by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano (Author)

Billions of years ago, everything in the universe was crunched up into a tiny speck that was smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. How did this little speck become the universe we know today? Playful, alliterative verse and clear prose tell the story of the universe's journey from speck to spectacular. Bold illustrations help uncover the secrets of the cosmos. The sky will never look the same again. View Details


The Big Bang Theory 2018 Day-at-a-Time Box Calendar
by Trends International (Author)

Get your learned laughs from Sheldon, Leonard, Penny, and the gang from The Big Bang Theory with these shots of your favorite scenes from the show. Nothing's off-limits when our heroes tackle another day sorely lacking in social skills in this conveniently sized 2018 The Big Bang Theory Mini Calendar printed on paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Perfect for places with limited wall space, like Sheldon's white board. Sixteen months (Sep 2017Dec 2018). View Details


Big Bang Disruption: Strategy in the Age of Devastating Inovation
by Larry Downes (Author), Paul Nunes (Author)

It used to take years or even decades for disruptive innovations to dethrone dominant products and services. But now any business can be devastated virtually overnight by something better and cheaper. How can executives protect themselves and harness the power of Big Bang Disruption?


Just a few years ago, drivers happily spent more than $200 for a GPS unit. But as smartphones exploded in popularity, free navigation apps exceeded the performance of stand-alone devices. Eighteen months after the debut of the navigation apps, leading GPS manufacturers had lost 85... View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Turning Kids Into Grown-Ups
Parenting is fraught with uncertainty, changing with each generation. This hour, TED speakers share ideas about raising kids and how — despite our best efforts — we're probably still doing it wrong. Guests include former Stanford dean Julie Lythcott-Haims, former firefighter Caroline Paul, author Peggy Orenstein, psychologist Dr. Aala El-Khani, and poet Sarah Kay.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#470 Information Spookyhighway
This week we take a closer look at a few of the downsides of the modern internet, and some of the security and privacy challenges that are becoming increasingly troublesome. Rachelle Saunders speaks with cyber security expert James Lyne about how modern hacking differs from the hacks of old, and how an internet without national boards makes it tricky to police online crime across jurisdictions. And Bethany Brookshire speaks with David Garcia, a computer scientist at the Complexity Science Hub and the Medical University of Vienna, about the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, and how social media platforms put a wrench...