Physicists May Have Solved Long-Standing Mystery of Matter and Antimatter

Matter Antimatter Concept

An element that could hold the key to the long-standing mystery around why there is much more matter than antimatter in our Universe has been discovered by a University of the West of Scotland (UWS)-led team of physicists.

The UWS and University of Strathclyde academics have discovered, in research published in the journal Nature Physics, that one of the isotopes of the element thorium possesses the most pear-shaped nucleus yet to be discovered. Nuclei similar to thorium-228 may now be able to be used to perform new tests to try find the answer to the mystery surrounding matter and antimatter.

UWS’s Dr. David O’Donnell, who led the project, said: “Our research shows that, with good ideas, world-leading nuclear physics experiments can be performed in university laboratories.”

“This work augments the experiments which nuclear physicists at UWS are leading at large experimental facilities around the world. Being able to perform experiments like this one provides excellent training for our students.” — Dr. David O’Donnell, UWS project leader

Physics explains that the Universe is composed of fundamental particles such as the electrons which are found in every atom. The Standard Model, the best theory physicists have to describe the sub-atomic properties of all the matter in the Universe, predicts that each fundamental particle can have a similar antiparticle. Collectively the antiparticles, which are almost identical to their matter counterparts except they carry opposite charge, are known as antimatter.

According to the Standard Model, matter and antimatter should have been created in equal quantities at the time of the Big Bang – yet our Universe is made almost entirely of matter.

Thorium 228

Thorium-228. Credit: Dr. David O’Donnell, UWS

In theory, an electric dipole moment (EDM) could allow matter and antimatter to decay at different rates, providing an explanation for the asymmetry in matter and antimatter in our universe.

Pear-shaped nuclei have been proposed as ideal physical systems in which to look for the existence of an EDM in a fundamental particle such as an electron. The pear shape means that the nucleus generates an EDM by having the protons and neutrons distributed non-uniformly throughout the nuclear volume.

The research team was made up of Dr. O’Donnell, Dr. Michael Bowry, Dr. Bondili Sreenivasa Nara Singh, Professor Marcus Scheck, Professor John F Smith and Dr. Pietro Spagnoletti from UWS’s School of Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences; and the University of Strathclyde’s Professor Dino Jaroszynski, and PhD students Majid Chishti and Giorgio Battaglia.

Professor Dino Jaroszynski, Director of the Scottish Centre for the Application of Plasma-based Accelerators (SCAPA) at the University of Strathclyde, said: “This collaborative effort, which draws on the expertise of a diverse group of scientists, is an excellent example of how working together can lead to a major breakthrough. It highlights the collaborative spirit within the Scottish physics community fostered by the Scottish University Physics Alliance (SUPA) and lays the groundwork for our collaborative experiments at SCAPA.”

The experiments began with a sample of thorium-232, which has a half-life of 14 billion years, meaning it decays very slowly. The decay chain of this nucleus creates excited quantum mechanical states of the nucleus thorium-228. Such states decay within nanoseconds of being created, by emitting gamma rays.

Dr. O’Donnell and his team used highly sensitive state-of-the-art scintillator detectors to detect these ultra-rare and fast decays. With careful configuration of detectors and signal-processing electronics, the research team have been able to precisely measure the lifetime of the excited quantum states, with an accuracy of two trillionths of a second. The shorter the lifetime of the quantum state the more pronounced the pear shape of the thorium-228 nucleus – giving researchers a better chance of finding an EDM.

Reference: “Direct measurement of the intrinsic electric dipole moment in pear-shaped thorium-228” by M. M. R. Chishti, D. O’Donnell, G. Battaglia, M. Bowry, D. A. Jaroszynski, B. S. Nara Singh, M. Scheck, P. Spagnoletti and J. F. Smith, 18 May 2020, Nature Physics.
DOI: 10.1038/s41567-020-0899-4

12 Comments on "Physicists May Have Solved Long-Standing Mystery of Matter and Antimatter"

  1. Antônio Carlos motta | June 15, 2020 at 5:15 am | Reply

    The differences in the neitrons permit the The existence of EDM and therefore the non reversal temporal hapoens and the violation of pt is permited It is the non hernitian hamiltpnian opprtators appear

  2. Paul Cubbage | June 15, 2020 at 10:31 am | Reply

    I’ve always thought that the dark matter could be junk that didn’t form anything but affected gravity.

  3. I would like research between a mirror made of anti-matter.
    Perhaps one of good size that you can see your own reflection

  4. Since Feynman and others determined antimatter is normal matter going backwards in time, what if, at the Big Bang, the matter universe was created moving forward in time and the mirror copy antimatter universe was created but moving in the opposite direction along the space time axis? And what if this matter universe is connected to its counterpart via quantum entanglement, which has already been proven to not be affected by temporal separation just as its unaffected by spatial separation. And virtual matter-antimatter pairs exist due to this entanglement.

    • Haneesh Gonuguntla | June 16, 2020 at 8:39 pm | Reply

      I think antimatter is formed when a small charged particle like electron hits a massive charged particle like proton. I am thinking in this way because initially I thought that neutron is a combination of an electron and a proton to explain the nuclear forces and I am almost successful in explaining nuclear forces in a new way which is wholly different from the explanation of standard model. Not only this I found a new theory which has to be published that can explain mechanism of all fundamental forces with the help of Einstein’s general relativity. So the reason for the asymmetry in master and antimatter may be due to the statement that I assumed “antimatter is produced when a relatively small charged particle his relatively heavier charged particle”.

  5. You are mixing what is what could be and most importantly what is observed.. once observed it’s no longer entangled. Abit like our new cryptocoin comming in 2021.

  6. JKS, wow! That’s it! This would explain our leadings and shortcomings on each of our journeys…but perfection or completion is coming to all things. Predestination is reality. We all have to run our tape, so to speak. Que Sera,sera!
    …or maybe it was Sarah all along. Mother of many nations.

    More will be revealed as our knowledge catches up with who we are in reality.

  7. Shraman dwivedi | June 15, 2020 at 8:34 pm | Reply

    Something is always there for us to discover inspite what we not know.

  8. Stephen Darby “the cern” on you tube.. He will explain this

  9. The number of protons and neutrons must be equalised to have net zero EDM and if anything higher it goes for fission or fusion accordingly.Now the electron has to take theburden of trnsfering this mometum.Electronas such oscillate between dual oscillation of wave and BEC condensation which is always stay for a longer period thanit becomes wave of gamma ray dissipation.The energy storing time of balancing is always thee at these junctures.At pear shaped juntures of non uniformity betweenneuron and proton it starts decays suddenly by wave scatteting.A neutron fissiongoes for pear shaped for a fission In U238 than that of U233.Perhaps this research may later pave the way for fusiont technology for a reversal frompear to non-pear conversionby selective EMD.
    A possible Corrona dissipating technic may also arrived at by increasing the pear shaped EMD which will be a revolution in Corona destruction.

  10. The pearshaped non stability for a short lived electrons may oscillate between duality of round shaped and egg shaped osillation while the round shaped electron.calls for a stability of condensation.while egg shaped pear type configuration becomes anunstble antimatterby gamma ray emission.
    A great reaserch is bring pursued .Congratulations

  11. … it is kind of interesting to wonder about some crucial things like that. However, somehow I still look bit more puzzled about the standing point string theory has on antimatter …
    How it explains that stuff…
    There is one thing that might actually explain that,…

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