Agriculture
New Gene Fights Potato Blight
Watering the Air
Treating peanut allergy bit by bit
Amphibians
Toads
Salamanders and Newts
Poison Dart Frogs
Animals
Gliders in the Family
G-Tunes with a Message
Little Bee Brains That Could
Behavior
Storing Memories before Bedtime
Double take
Puberty gone wild
Birds
Hummingbirds
Vultures
Seagulls
Chemistry and Materials
Lighting goes digital
Supersonic Splash
Popping to Perfection
Computers
Small but WISE
The Earth-bound asteroid scientists saw coming
Fingerprint Evidence
Dinosaurs and Fossils
A Really Big (but Extinct) Rodent
Digging Dinos
South America's sticky tar pits
E Learning Jamaica
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Earth
Less Mixing Can Affect Lake's Ecosystem
Earth Rocks On
Earth's Lowly Rumble
Environment
To Catch a Dragonfly
Little Bits of Trouble
Inspired by Nature
Finding the Past
The Taming of the Cat
Big Woman of the Distant Past
An Ancient Childhood
Fish
Lungfish
Flashlight Fishes
Tuna
Food and Nutrition
The Essence of Celery
Symbols from the Stone Age
The Color of Health
GSAT English Rules
Who vs. That vs. Which
Whoever vs. Whomever
Subject and Verb Agreement
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
Mastering The GSAT Exam
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
GSAT Scholarship
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
GSAT Mathematics
Losing with Heads or Tails
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Secrets of an Ancient Computer
Human Body
Nature's Medicines
Dreaming makes perfect
The tell-tale bacteria
Invertebrates
Leeches
Grasshoppers
Shrimps
Mammals
Gray Whale
Skunks
Goats
Parents
Children and Media
What Not to Say to Emerging Readers
The Surprising Meaning and Benefits of Nursery Rhymes
Physics
Echoes of a Stretched Egg
Project Music
Powering Ball Lightning
Plants
Nature's Alphabet
When Fungi and Algae Marry
Hungry bug seeks hot meal
Reptiles
Lizards
Alligators
Snapping Turtles
Space and Astronomy
Ringing Saturn
Killers from Outer Space
Asteroid Moons
Technology and Engineering
Morphing a Wing to Save Fuel
Young Scientists Take Flight
Switchable Lenses Improve Vision
The Parts of Speech
Adjectives and Adverbs
Countable and Uncountable Nouns
What is a Verb?
Transportation
Charged cars that would charge
Seen on the Science Fair Scene
Revving Up Green Machines
Weather
Either Martians or Mars has gas
Where rivers run uphill
Polar Ice Feels the Heat
Add your Article

The Mirror Universe of Antimatter

Had a fight with your parents or a bad day at school? Wouldn't it be nice to step through a mirror to enter a different, yet somehow familiar world on the other side? In some ways, this might not be such a farfetched idea. Physicists around the world are using high-tech machines to make particles of so-called antimatter. They think of antiparticles as mirror images of the particles that make up everything in our everyday world. Just as you look like your image in a mirror, except that right and left are interchanged, a particle and its antiparticle are identical, except that they have opposite electrical charges. The research probably won't turn up anything exotic—certainly nothing like a galactic wormhole that would let you slip instantly from one part of the universe to another. Studying antimatter, however, could help scientists understand the origins and makeup of the universe. And particles of antimatter already play an important part in medical equipment used to scan the brain to monitor mental activity. Ordinary matter Few people—and most of them are cutting-edge physicists—have ever seen antimatter. The rest of us are much more familiar with matter. Air, water, a table, the TV—you name it—everything we see, touch, eat, drink, and breathe is made up of tiny objects called atoms. Atoms, in turn, are made up of even tinier particles: electrons, protons, and neutrons. Electrons have a negative electrical charge, and protons have a positive electrical charge. Neutrons have no electrical charge. A typical atom is made up of an equal number of electrons and protons, along with some neutrons. The number of protons in an atom determines what kind of atom it is. A hydrogen atom, for example, consists of just one proton and one electron. Each type of particle has an elusive anti-partner. An antiproton is just like a proton, except that it has a negative charge. A positron is just like an electron, except that it has a positive charge. However, when a proton meets an antiproton or an electron meets a positron, the particles destroy each other, disappearing in a puff of energy. As bizarre as the concept may sound, scientists have known about antiparticles for decades. "When I talk about antimatter to my colleagues, they are not very excited about it. They say, 'Okay, so what's new? What are you doing with it?'" says Rolf Landua, a physicist at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. "When I talk to nonphysicists about it, they look at me with great eyes and say, 'God, it sounds so exotic.'" Making antimatter At CERN, Landua works with a group called the ATHENA collaboration. These physicists were the first to succeed in linking positrons with antiprotons to make atoms of antihydrogen—the simplest anti-atom. In theory, the process of making antimatter is fairly simple, though the equipment needed to do it can be very complicated (and expensive). Scientists at CERN use a one-of-its-kind machine to make antiparticles. When created, these antiparticles typically have a whole lot of energy. Inside the machine, they zoom along circular tunnels, making a million circuits every second. But on each lap, the tiny objects pass through magnetic and electric fields that slow them down. Once the antiparticles have stopped moving, the researchers can store and then combine them. "We now have the first antiatom ever produced by humans," Landua says. "That's the new thing about our experiment." Beginning of time Besides being mind-bafflingly strange, human-made bits of antimatter may provide windows into the very beginning of time. One of the big mysteries of the universe, Landua says, is that it doesn't appear to contain any antimatter. "You probably don't spend sleepless nights wondering about why that is," he says. "But physicists do." Here's one reason for pondering antimatter. Many physicists think that, if the universe started with a giant burst of energy called the Big Bang, it should have produced equal amounts of matter and antimatter. But, whenever matter meets antimatter, the particles annihilate each other and disappear. So, during the very first millisecond after the Big Bang, the two types of particles should have canceled each other out. Instead, perhaps because there was slightly more matter than antimatter in the beginning, only the antimatter disappeared, and our matter-full universe was able to form out of the leftovers. Landua and his colleagues want to find out what might have caused an imbalance. "We study anti-atoms, and we compare them with atoms to see if there are any differences—even the tiniest ones," Landua says. "This is a big question because, if there was no [imbalance] between matter and antimatter, we wouldn't exist." Slow going Progress is slow. With current technology, ATHENA researchers can make 100 antihydrogen atoms every second. At that rate, making 1 gram of the stuff would take many billions of years—longer than the age of the universe itself. It's also extremely hard to store antimatter because it gets destroyed as soon as it comes into contact with matter, which is everywhere. The researchers are trying to figure out how to make more antiatoms faster, trap them better, and hold onto them for longer periods of time. The possibility also remains that some chunk of antimatter might exist elsewhere in outer space in the form of anti-stars or antigalaxies, Landua says. So far, searches of our universe have turned up nothing, but Landua hasn't given up hope. "There may be other universes we cannot look into where there is a preponderance of antimatter," he says. "At least here, in our section of the universe, it doesn't seem like it. This is the mystery." So, being able to step into an alternative mirror universe to get away from your troubles will probably remain a long shot for a long time to come.

The Mirror Universe of Antimatter
The Mirror Universe of Antimatter








Designed and Powered by HBJamaica.com™