Field of Science

Antimatter trapped

A Nature letter recently reported on trapping antihydrogen. Researchers at CERN snagged 38 antihydrogen atoms in magnetic trap in what promises to the begining of fruitful research on deep symmetries in nature like charge, parity and time. I wrote up an article discussing the research for Ars Technia (where I am now an occasional contributor in case you hadn't heard) and I figure I should shamelessly self promote. From the article:
Researchers at CERN have created and trapped antihydrogen in an attempt to study the underpinnings of the standard model of physics. Antihydrogen is made of antiparticles, specifically an antiproton and a positron, instead of the proton and an electron that are present in natural hydrogen. It has the same mass but opposite charge of its normal matter counterparts.

Antimatter has a bad reputation for being dangerous because it annihilates on contact with regular matter, releasing prodigious amounts of energy. However, the clever reader will note that they have not been annihilated by the antimatter produced at CERN. The reality is that if you gathered all of the antimatter CERN has ever created, you wouldn't garner enough energy to power your laptop through reading this article.

The Universe seems to be made of mostly regular matter, so any antimatter encounters matter and is annihilated immediately after it has been created. Production and detection of cold antihydrogen atoms also happened at CERN in 2002, but those were short-lived. The new Nature letter describes how to overcome the difficulty of containing antihydrogen so that it isn't immediately destroyed.
Continue reading CERN snags 38 antihydrogen atoms in magnetic trap.

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