Thursday, November 18, 2010

Antimatter - Caught in the act!

Those people at Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire, better known and recognized as CERN, the inventors of th World Wide Web and the ones who own the largest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider have finally used that huge machine they have under the ground to actually trap antikmatter after producing it.

They produced 38 atoms of antihydrogen, which is the antimatter equivalent of hydrogen, and trapped it in what they call an 'ALPHA trap' for a whole... 172 milliseconds. It does sound very little, but this is the first time someone has even done that. It's a breakthrough. The antihydrogen consisted of a positron and an antiproton.

An antimatter trap. Quite different from 'Angels and Demons'
Antimatter is the opposite of matter. Maybe just another kind of matter, but just not matter. Precisely, it is something that has opposite properties of matter, and annhiliates matter on contact, with a little 'boom'. That's why it is very hard to actually hold it somewhere, living in this world dominated by normal matter. Antimatter just neutralizes matter and disappears. But now, they did it.

For a long time, CERN has been researching antimatter for a really long time now. Investigating antimatter, how it forms, and its properties, we can learn about the formation of the matter in the universe.

There was a remote chance of destroying a lot of stuff, as antimatter is really dangerous, with its capability of annhiliating matter. But, according to Alexander Fry of Ars Technica, the 38 atoms could not even power up your laptop for as long as it would take to read this article.