A new result in particle physics reveals why matter, rather than anti-matter, makes up much of the universe, but current theories have no explanation for it.
Why do we exist at all? The laws of physics, or what we know of them so far, are rather unclear on this matter, in fact on all matter altogether. Most particles that we know of come with an anti-particle: for instance, the negatively charged electron has a positively charged positron as its anti-particle, and if the two happen to meet they annihilate each other in a blaze of energy. In the moments after the Big Bang, matter and anti-matter were formed, but if they were formed in equal measure only energy would have been left in the resulting annihilation. So, how do we explain the presence of matter in the universe and thus our own existence?
Scientists have suggested that due to certain violations of symmetry, more matter than anti-matter may have formed in the initial moments of the existence of the universe. Such violations have been detected, but nowhere on the scale that would explain our existence. Now, scientists working on what is termed the DZero experiment at Fermilab’s Tevatron, the most powerful accelerator till the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) kicked in, have come up with data that suggests a means by which anti-matter may have yielded to matter in the race for being. In a paper submitted to Physics Review they observed, on sifting through data of proton and anti-proton collisions, that the muons (matter) formed exceeded the anti-muons by 1 per cent. “Many of us felt goosebumps when we saw the result,” says Stefan Soldner-Rembold, a spokesperson for DZero. “We knew we were seeing something beyond what we have seen before, and beyond what current theories can explain.” This is where the LHC comes in. It provides just the right amount of energy to explore this phenomenon further. If the LHC confirms and elaborates on this result, then this clue to our existence is also likely to pave the way for a new physics. As Joe Lykken, a theorist at Fermilab, told the New York Times, “So I would not say that this announcement is the equivalent of seeing the face of God, but it might turn out to be the toe of God.”
Hartosh Singh Bal turned from the difficulty of doing mathematics to the ease of writing on politics. Unlike mathematics all this requires is being less wrong than most others who dwell on the subject.