Antimatter is rare in the Universe today, but it’s thought half the Universe was formed of it at the Big Bang. Understanding why so much antimatter disappeared is one of the biggest challenges in physics. Our exhibit reveals how the LHCb and ALPHA experiments at CERN are comparing the behaviour of matter and antimatter to try and solve this puzzle.
Particle physics has shown us that everything is ultimately made of the same unsplittable building blocks, called fundamental particles. At the Big Bang we think that half of the particles in the Universe were antimatter, but just one second later antimatter had all but disappeared. Matter survived to form everything from the stars and galaxies, to the Earth and all life that it supports. Our particle physics theory doesn’t predict or explain the dominance of matter in today’s Universe, but we can measure differences in matter and antimatter behaviour that might give us clues why this happens. Our next challenge is to understand where these differences come from.
Find out more with interactive diagrams, videos and more at antimatter-matters.org.
Presented by: University of Birmingham, University of Bristol, University of Cambridge, University of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow, Imperial College London, University of Liverpool, University of Manchester, University of Oxford, STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, University of Swansea, University of Warwick
Reconstruction of an antihydrogen annihilation event in the ALPHA experiment at CERN. Credit: Chukman So