A team of scientists from CERN (Switzerland) has stated that the universe should not exist at all. Why? At the beginning of its existence, during the process known as the Big Bang, equal amounts of matter and antimatter were generated which must have annihilated each other, which means that you should not be reading this article about 13.8 billion years later.
One plausible explanation is that some crucial difference between matter and antimatter prevented this catastrophe; however, the latest CERN research in Switzerland has found that both particles look completely identical.
“All our observations find a complete symmetry between matter and antimatter, which is why the universe should not really exist.” An asymmetry must exist here somewhere, but we just do not understand where the difference lies of the rupture of symmetry? Asks Christian Smorra, co-author of the paper published in the journal Nature.
As far as we know, the Big Bang produced an equal amount of matter and antimatter, the two forms of matter that make up almost all of the visible matter in the Universe and its elusive twin mirror.
Since when matter encounters antimatter, it usually destroys one another with a flash of pure energy; it means that there must be something that we still do not know that prevented this from happening when the universe was born.
The magnetic properties of antiprotons, the antimatter versions of common protons, were one of the last hopes to find an imbalance between the two types of matter. But after making the most accurate measurements so far, the scientists say they have not found any discrepancy.
Because antimatter cannot be contained physically, the researchers used Penning traps of charged particles to hold antiprotons at incredibly low temperatures, wrapped in magnetic and electric fields. The team broke the antimatter storage record: 405 days in total and measures 350 times more accurate than in previous readings.
They got the most accurate measure taken so far of the magnetic moment of an antiproton (the antiparticle of the proton), a number that measures how a particle reacts to a magnetic force, and have discovered that it is exactly the same as that of the proton.
For those interested, the measurement of the magnetic force was -2.7928473441 nuclear magnetons, (μN) that coincide with the positive value of the proton.
Solve the problem?
No way. This result only adds to this ancient mystery. There has to be some reason why we are all living and breathing here, because recently we discovered that, at least, it seems that we do not live in a great computer simulation.
Scientists plan future experiments to study the magnetic properties of antiprotons in more detail and investigate whether gravity could be the key point between matter and antimatter.
“By updating the experiment with several new technical innovations, we believe it can still be improved, and in the future, after the CERN update, which is expected to be completed in 2021, we can achieve at least a ten-fold improvement,” says Smorra.
Shall we solve the mystery then? We hope so, because there must be an asymmetry somewhere, only that we have not yet found it.