Does it seem a little like the world is having some sort of apocalypse lately? Well, the CERN scientists are taking that thought a little further with the idea that perhaps the universe shouldn’t exist in the first place…


The BASE experiment at the CERN antiproton decelerator in Geneva.
Stefan Sellner, Fundamental Symmetries Laboratory, RIKEN, Japan


From Cosmos Magazine,


Universe shouldn’t exist, CERN physicists conclude

A super-precise measurement shows proton and antiproton have identical magnetic properties, writes Cathal O’Connell.


“One of the great mysteries of modern physics is why antimatter did not destroy the universe at the beginning of time.


To explain it, physicists suppose there must be some difference between matter and antimatter – apart from electric charge. Whatever that difference is, it’s not in their magnetism, it seems.


Physicists at CERN in Switzerland have made the most precise measurement ever of the magnetic moment of an anti-proton – a number that measures how a particle reacts to magnetic force – and found it to be exactly the same as that of the proton but with opposite sign. The work is described in Nature.


“All of our observations find a complete symmetry between matter and antimatter, which is why the universe should not actually exist,” says Christian Smorra, a physicist at CERN’s Baryon–Antibaryon Symmetry Experiment (BASE) collaboration. “An asymmetry must exist here somewhere but we simply do not understand where the difference is.”


Antimatter is notoriously unstable – any contact with regular matter and it annihilates in a burst of pure energy that is the most efficient reaction known to physics. That’s why it was chosen as the fuel to power the starship Enterprise in Star Trek.


The standard model predicts the Big Bang should have produced equal amounts of matter and antimatter – but that’s a combustive mixture that would have annihilated itself, leaving nothing behind to make galaxies or planets or people.


To explain the mystery, physicists have been playing spot the difference between matter and antimatter – searching for some discrepancy that might explain why matter came to dominate.


So far they’ve performed extremely precise measurements for all sort of properties: mass, electric charge and so on, but no difference has yet been found.


Last year, scientists at CERN’s Antihydrogen Laser PHysics Apparatus (ALPHA) experiment probed an atom of anti-hydrogen with light for the first time, again finding no difference when compared with an atom of hydrogen.


But one property was known only to middling accuracy compared to the others – the magnetic moment of the antiproton…”


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