A significant step forward in the hunt for the missing anti-matter ?

Jun 18th, 2011 | By | Category: Featured Articles, Physical Sciences

One of the commonest riddles faced by scientists and those who try to understand how the quantum theory helps in understanding how the universe began, is that of matter and anti-matter. In his best selling book, The Tao of Physics, Frijof Capra quotes the Heart Sutra in support of the notion ‘Matter can be created from nothing’, based on experiments in our early nuclear bubble chamber reactors where particles and anti-particles formed out of no where, and then seemingly again collide together with a burst and energy and are annihilated back to nothingness.

So far, all we have observed in our universe is matter, without any confirmatory trace of anti-matter. So if the Universe really started out with a Big Bang from a singularity or nothingness, matter and anti-matter should have been formed in equal proportions. In recent years the predictions of the String Theory however has reduced matter to just 4 % of the known universe, with the rest being mysterious forms of dark energy and matter. While that’s another story, and we are still just made of 4 % of the Universe, matter, the question remains, why was more matter than anti-matter produced after the Big Bang ?

A significant step forward in our understanding of this riddle could come from a recent study conducted by an international research team of 500 scientists across the world that was called the ‘Tokai to Kamioka experiment’, or T2K. Neutrinos, thought to be one of the fundamental elementary particles and can pass through solid matter at the speed of light, were studied during their 185 mile travel from Japan’s east to west coast. Normally neutrinos come in three variants or flavours – tau, muon and neutrino. In this study a spontaneous change of muon to electron neutrinos were detected, paving the way for studies of a new type of neutron symmetry called charge-particle or ‘CP violation’. According to Alysia Marino, Assistant Professor of Colorado Boulder, a participant in the study, if this C-P violation is confirmed with further studies, it could explain why more matter than anti-matter was produced in the early universe, resulting in the formation of galaxies, stars and life as we know it.

If verified by further studies, it indicates that the missing anti-matter isn’t yet undetected, it simply changed to other forms, and does not exist.



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One Comment to “A significant step forward in the hunt for the missing anti-matter ?”

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