Scientists Pin Down Antimatter
CERN researchers move closer to solving key physics mysteries
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jun 6, 2011 5:08 PM CDT
This 2010 image taken by the ALPHA annihilation detector shows untrapped antihydrogen atoms.   (AP Photo/CERN)

(Newser) – Scientists at CERN have found a way to “trap” antimatter for some 16 minutes—enough time to examine it. It’s a big step forward in attempting to solve one of nature’s biggest questions, the Telegraph notes. When particles of matter and antimatter collide, they’re destroyed. Around the time of the Big Bang, the two forms were present in equal quantities, but now, antimatter is scarce.

Scientists hope to discover why nature has apparently given matter—the stuff of the observable universe—the upper hand. They have now trapped about 300 antihydrogen atoms, chilling them to almost freezing. The team trapped antimatter for the first time last year, but only for a fraction of a second. Now, "we can keep the antihydrogen atoms trapped for 1,000 seconds. This is long enough to begin to study them," says a scientist. They plan to compare them to hydrogen atoms using special laser and microwave techniques.
 

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