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 Antihydrogen undergoes its first-ever measurement

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Ashley Bacchus



Number of posts : 64
Registration date : 2011-02-06

PostSubject: Antihydrogen undergoes its first-ever measurement   Fri Mar 30, 2012 12:57 am

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17284822

A group of scientists at Cern (Alpha) have begun to take measurements of an antihydrogen. Itís taken 80 years to get this close to measure the properties of an antiparticle and in this case an antihydrogen. Every particle has an antiparticle, which should be similar in all aspects except charge. Therefore, an antihydrogen would be the opposite of a hydrogen particle. And since a hydrogen atom is made of a proton and an electron, the antihydrogen atom would consist of an antiproton and an antielectron/positron. The scientists used magnetic fields to hold the antihydrogen atoms. The anti-atoms behave somewhat like tiny bar magnets. So by applying pulses of microwave energy, they were able to make the magnets "flip." "When that happens, it goes from being trapped like a marble in a bowl to being repelled, like a marble on top of a hill," Dr Hangst explained. So now that theyíve been able to trap the antihydrogen atoms they will do other experiments to get a picture of the energy levels and other properties to determine if antiparticles are truly the same in everything except charge.

What makes antimatter so difficult to measure and study is that when antimatter and matter come into contact they destroy each other, which is known as annihilation. This project is similar to another project being conducted at Cern: The Large Hadron Collider. Theyíve basically been colliding protons at high speeds to create explosions of energy and from this energy many subatomic particles are produced which include antiparticles. One purpose of the LHC is to figure out why the universe is mostly matter and not antimatter, because if equal amounts of matter and antimatter were formed, in theory they should have destroyed each other, but that's not the case. Another reason we put so much research into antimatter is that a decent amount of it produces massive amounts of energy when it collides with matter. This means we could possibly use antimatter as a renewable energy source. As always, there is still a long way to go but progress certainly is happening.
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