When the world was formed, there were two types of energy- Matter and anti-matter. A matter is made up of atoms that have subatomic particles with charges: electrons (-ve), protons (+ve) and neutrons (neutral). The electrons orbit around the nucleus of the atom. Antimatter is the mirror image of matter. Thus, it is exactly the same as matter but everything has the opposite charge. In the atom of antimatter, an electron with a positive charge exists and this is known as the positron. The proton exists as antiproton which is a proton with a negative charge. Though neutrons are neutral, antineutrons exist as well. Wondering how their charge is different? The neutrons are made up of quarks which carry a charge so, in an antineutron, the charge of the quarks is reversed thus making it an antineutron.
During the Big Bang, an equal amount of matter and antimatter existed but quickly, matter increased a lot more than antimatter and it made the whole universe. Paul Dirac was the first scientist to discover Antimatter. He was combining Einstein’s theory of relativity with Quantum Physics and made groundbreaking discoveries. He calculated and explained how electrons work and how something so small travels at the speed of light. When he discovered this, he also understood that his equations work for electrons with either positive or negative charge. He was hesitant to reveal his findings initially but then he told the world about the evil twin that exists for every atom. He explained that mirror images or antiparticles of every particle can exist and so there might be a universe made up of just antimatter. This stunned the world and after Carl Anderson confirmed Dirac’s theory of antiparticles, they were both awarded the Nobel Prize.
5 facts about antimatter:
- Matter and antimatter annihilate the moment they come in contact and they release energy.
- Antimatter exists in traces and is mostly found in cosmic rays.
- It would take 100 billion dollars to produce a milligram of antimatter in the lab.
- CERN is actively doing research on antimatter and how they work.
- Research suggests that antimatter would behave around gravity the same way as matter does.
Antimatter and matter produce a lot of energy when they collide and if we had enough supply of antimatter, it would help us explore the universe as the spacecraft would have enough energy to travel the distance. Till now, no proof of a universe made up of antimatter exists but observatories are still doing research on it. Theoretically, an equal amount of matter and antimatter should exist and the asymmetry of the difference still hasn’t been explained. Pennings traps are used to trap the antimatter in a series of magnetic and electric fields which don’t let it collide with the wall, thus trapping the antimatter and avoiding a collision. The scientists have predicted that in the next 40-80 years, we should be able to use antimatter quite freely in our research, if this occurs, we could also explore the universe and even the areas around the black hole!
Image Courtesy: fnal.gov, ad-startup.web.cern.ch, jdetrick.blogspot.in, cds.cern.ch
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