Published in ScienceNOW, 29 Feb 2012
The big bang created a lot of matter—along with the same amount of antimatter, which wiped out everything and brought the universe to an untimely end. That’s what accepted theoretical physics tell us—though things clearly didn’t work out that way. Now, results from a U.S. particle smasher are providing new evidence for a subtle difference in the properties of matter and antimatter that may explain how the early universe survived.
The first evidence of a difference between matter and antimatter was found in the 1960s in the decay of particles called neutral kaons, which led to the awarding of a Nobel Prize in physics. In 2001, accelerators in the United States and Japan found more evidence for a difference in particles called B mesons. Then last year at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva, Switzerland, evidence was found in a third system, D mesons, but there wasn’t enough data to rule out a statistical fluke. The new results—which come from the Collider Detector at Fermilab (CDF) experiment near Chicago—are still not conclusive evidence, but they bring the chances of a fluke down to about one in 10,000. “I’m sure in a few days everyone in the field will feel much more confident that this is actually real,” says Giovanni Punzi, spokesperson of the CDF experiment. [...]
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