In a study published in Nature, physicists establish that antimatter conforms to gravity, the same as matter. The experiments were conducted at the European Organisation For Nuclear Research (CERN) using the ALPHA-g radial time projection chamber.
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What’s the matter with antimatter?
Physicists have been playing with the idea of antimatter since Paul Dirac proposed the modern theory of antimatter in 1928. Antimatter, as we understand it, is the opposite twin of matter.
Same as a regular atom, an antimatter atom consists of a positron (antielectron), antiprotons, and antineutrons. The structure of antimatter is the same as matter but has the opposite charge.
When particles (electrons, protons, and neutrons) meet antiparticles (positrons, antiprotons, and antineutrons), they annihilate each other in a flash of light.
Looking for antimatter
Physicists believe there should be an equal amount of antimatter and matter. While matter surrounds us, antimatter is hard to find and pin down. In nature, antimatter particles can be found in cosmic rays but scientists at CERN have found ways to create antimatter particles for their experiments.
Using these lab-made antiparticles, they’ve finally debunked the concept of anti-gravity. Some physicists proposed the concept of anti-gravity, since antimatter is the opposite of matter, does it react differently to gravity? They believed antimatter might ‘fall up’ instead of down.
But as it stands, antimatter is as much a subject to gravity as the apple that fell down.
What does it mean for the future?
In an article published in The Conversation, the authors of the study, break down the different components of the experiment and how the current experimental achievement will help with future experiments relating to antimatter.
Meanwhile, particle physicists are still trying to peel back layers from the mystery of the hiding antimatter. As Dr. Danielle Hodgkinson, a CERN research team member, said, “We don’t understand how our Universe came to be matter-dominated and so this is what motivates our experiments.”
The fascination with antimatter continues, as Dr. Hangst, who has spent over thirty years creating antimatter atoms, said, “As far as we understand, you could build a universe just like ours with you and me made of just antimatter.”