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Why do we exist? This is arguably the most profound question there is and one that may seem completely outside the scope of particle physics. But our new experiment at CERN's Large Hadron Collider has taken us a step closer to figuring it out.
To understand why, let's go back in time some 13.8 billion years to the Big Bang. This event produced equal amounts of the matter you are made of and something called antimatter. It is believed that every particle has an antimatter companion that is virtually identical to itself, but with the opposite charge. When a particle and its antiparticle meet, they annihilate each other – disappearing in a burst of light.
Universe - Today - Matter - Mysteries - Physics
Why the universe we see today is made entirely out of matter is one of the greatest mysteries of modern physics. Had there ever been an equal amount of antimatter, everything in the universe would have been annihilated. Our research has unveiled a new source of this asymmetry between matter and antimatter.
Antimatter was first postulated by Arthur Schuster in 1896, given a theoretical footing by Paul Dirac in 1928, and discovered in the form of anti-electrons, dubbed positrons, by Carl Anderson in 1932. The positrons occur in natural radioactive processes, such as in the decay of Potassium-40. This means your average banana (which contains Potassium) emits a positron every 75 minutes. These then annihilate with matter electrons to produce light. Medical applications like PET scanners produce antimatter in the same process.
Building - Blocks - Matter - Atoms - Particles
The fundamental building blocks of matter that make up atoms are elementary particles called quarks and leptons. There are six kinds of quarks: up, down, strange, charm, bottom and top. Similarly, there are six leptons: the electron, muon, tau and the three neutrinos. There are also antimatter copies of these twelve particles that differ only in their...
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