More than 500 scientists showed that the attractive force between antiprotons worked the way it does in matter, indicating that antimatter is not as different from matter as previously thought. The study paves the way for more discoveries regarding the matter-antimatter asymmetry after the Big Bang. It has long been a puzzle in particle physics why the Universe as we see it is made up mostly of ordinary matter, with hardly any antimatter around, even though the two should be more or less evenly spread.
"The Big Bang – the beginning of the universe – produced matter and antimatter in equal amounts. But that's not the world we see today. Antimatter is extremely rare. It's a huge mystery!" explained Aihong Tang, one of the scientists analyzing the data collected by the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) STAR detector.
"Although this puzzle has been known for decades and little clues have emerged, it remains one of the big challenges of science. Anything we learn about the nature of antimatter can potentially contribute to solving this puzzle."
Strong attractive force
RHIC is a place where antimatter is produced. Production is done by smashing the nuclei of heavy atoms like gold into each other at nearly the speed of light. It aims to emulate the conditions of the Universe just a few microseconds after the Big Bang to figure out exactly what happened next.
The determining factors of the experiments were the effective range of the two antiprotons, or the measurement of how close two particles need to be to influence each other with their electric charges, and the scattering length, or how the particles deviate as they travel from the source to their destination.
"It could have been that antimatter didn't have the same attractive force as matter and would have helped explain how these differences, during the initial part of the Big Bang, might have resulted in antimatter not having survived in the shape of stars and planets, as matter did," physicist Frank Geurts said in a statement.
"That's where this research is helpful. The interactions between two antimatter particles turn out to be quite similar to matter particles. It may not give us a solution to the bigger problem, but we most definitely removed one option," he added.
Measurements were difficult to take for a variety of reasons, especially considering how small they are. Both are measured in femtometers or one-quadrillionth of a meter. In the RHIC antiproton experiments, the scattering length was around 7.41 femtometers and the effective range was 2.14 femtometers, roughly similar to their proton counterparts.
"This discovery isn't a surprise," said Kefeng Xin, a contributing scientist to the study. "We've been studying the interaction between nucleons (particles that make up an atom's nucleus) for decades, and we've always thought the forces between antimatter particles are the same as for matter. But this is the first time we've been able to quantify it."
Aside from the experiments in the RHIC, advances on antimatter studies were made when antimatter galaxies, asteroids, and cosmic rays were detected and confirmed for the first time in the history of mankind. Using the Santilli Telescope paired with a Galileo telescope, Dr. Ruggero Santilli of Thunder Energies Corporation (OTCQB:TNRG), along with his team of scientists, was able to make the first detection in the Epsilon Alpha and Epsilon Beta near the Vega region of the night sky.
The Santilli Telescope is the world's first truly new telescope since Galileo times, as it is the first and only optical instrument with concave lenses, specialized for the systematic search of antimatter galaxies. The images captured by the Santilli telescope showed anomalous streaks and circles that were not in the images of the same sky region captured by a Galileo telescope. This suggests that they were of antimatter origin, with streaks and circles of darkness, rather than light, as their main feature.
"The physical relevance of Prof. Santilli's detection of antimatter galaxies is evident not only for the ensuing new conception of the universe, but also for the protection of our planet against antimatter asteroids," stated Prof. S. Georgiev in one of the independent confirmations of the detections.
The results of these experiments and research prove that antimatter is not completely lost, and that there's no difference between the behaviour of matter and antimatter in terms of strong force. Scientists will have to continue the search for that X factor in antimatter that explains why and where it diminished greatly.
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