Particles can be seen switching between matter and antimatter at CERN

According to Oxford physicists who analyzed data from the Large Hadron Collider, elementary particles switch between matter and antimatter. It turns out that an immeasurable weight difference between the two particles could have saved the universe from extinction shortly after its inception.

Antimatter is like the “evil twins” of ordinary matter, but surprisingly similar. In fact, the only difference is that the antimatter has the opposite charge. In other words, when matter and antimatter particles come into contact, they explode with energy and extinguish each other.

To complicate matters, some particles, such as photons, are actually antiparticles in their own right. Others are even seen to exist simultaneously as a strange mixture of both states, thanks to the quantum strangeness of superposition (most famously shown through Schrodinger’s cat thought experiment). Antimatter.

And now a new particle has joined its dedicated club – a charm meson. These subatomic particles are usually composed of charm quarks and up quarks, but their antimatter equivalents are composed of charm antiquarks and up quarks. Normally, these states are kept separate, but new studies show that charm mesons can spontaneously switch between the two states.

The final secret was that the masses of the two states were slightly different. And, in the extreme, in the sense of “slightly,” the difference is only 0.000000000000000000000000000000000001 grams.

This incredibly accurate measurement was taken from data collected during the second run of the Large Hadron Collider by physicists at the University of Oxford. Charm mesons are produced in the LHC by proton-proton collisions and usually move only a few millimeters before collapsing into other particles.

By comparing charm mesons, which tend to move farther, with charm mesons, which collapse faster, the team identified mass differences as a major factor in determining whether charm mesons turn into anti-charm mesons. ..

Diagram highlighting the difference in mass between the two versions of charm mesons


This very small discovery can have a huge impact on the universe. According to the Standard Model of particle physics, the Big Bang will produce the same amount of matter and antimatter, all of which will collide and disappear over time, making the universe a very empty place. Obviously that didn’t happen and somehow the matter became dominant, but what caused the imbalance?

One hypothesis raised by this new discovery is that particles such as charm mesons change more often from antimatter to antimatter than from matter to antimatter. Investigating whether it is true and, if so, why it can be a major clue to open one of the greatest mysteries of science.

The study was submitted to the journal Physical Review Letter, And currently available on preprint servers arXiv..

Source: Oxford University, CERN Particles can be seen switching between matter and antimatter at CERN

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