CERN Scientists Directly Interact with Antimatter for the First Time
Today, after 20 years or research, CERN’s ALPHA collaboration has announced the very first measurement of a spectral line in an antihydrogen atom using a laser. In other words, they have been able to directly measure the behavior of antimatter by shining a light on it.
In the new study, published in Nature, scientists found that antihydrogen reacted the same way to light as hydrogen, meaning that matter and antimatter have the same reaction to light. If they had found otherwise, it would have completely changed our understanding of physics.
Antimatter has been extremely elusive to scientists, especially since it can’t coexist with matter. When matter and antimatter particles meet, they destroy each other, which is one reason the scientific community is baffled by the fact that there is much more matter than antimatter in the universe. It has been impossible up to this point to directly observe antimatter, which makes this a truly momentous discovery.
“It’s a watershed moment, we had to make a lot of technological developments to get to this point. First we had to make antihydrogen atoms, one at a time. Then we had to hold on to them for long enough. Finally we shone a laser on it,” Mike Charlton, one of the scientists on the project, told The Independent.
Up next for ALPHA is to refine the precision of their results for future studies. Such high-precision antimatter testing may also be able to explain some of the matter-antimatter asymmetry we experience in our universe.