Can the antimatter fall?

Can the antimatter fall?


If the particle encounters a particle, they annihilate, releasing energy, e is emtsekvadrat and ostriches do not fly. But what do we know about antimatter beyond such platitudes? Or rather – what we do not know?

“We really did not understand very well antimatter – recognized Holger Mueller ( Holger Müller ), a physicist at the University of California at Berkeley (USA). – For example, the fundamental laws of physics suggest that matter and antimatter in the universe is the same amount, and observations of the world around suggest that the first several times more, and no explanation that would suit all, it does not have. “

And if it were only that! Here you go: let’s say you planted gram of antimatter (first, of course, having obtained it somewhere). (I beg you, do not do it out of the vacuum, otherwise immediately highlighted the pair energy Hiroshimas.) And then what? Fly if Earth’s gravitational field antimatter up – or still rush down?

And here at all sad. After all, gravity is not all entirely clear. Like, when we look at the rotating galaxy, the gravity somehow it seems better to keep the parts together, what should be the basis of the amount of matter that we observe in these galaxies. Therefore, usually, “it is credited by gravity dark matter, but no one knows what it is”, said Mr. Mueller.

Group Mr. Mueller has tried to find out whether antihydrogen obeys gravity. However, while its experimental setup (the scheme) gives too low accuracy to come to certain conclusions. (Fig. Holger Muller et al.)

“The combination of gravity and antimatter hitherto never been experimentally investigated, – the scientist. – There were only indirect evidence, but this seemingly simple experiment as releasing antimatter lump followed by observing his behavior, never carried out. “

As you guessed, the researcher wanted to be the first. “We do not understand a hundred percent antimatter, but the same applies to the way it is with all gravity, so their study in a bundle seems like a good idea to look for this physical opening” – the scientist believes.

What will be the toolkit? Researchers hope to atomic interferometer measuring the behavior of particles, such as atoms, electrons or protons and their antiparticles. FEATURED thus be cold particles at a temperature close to absolute zero.

In such conditions, the particles will largely behave like waves spreading in waves up and down in the experimental chamber. Analyzing the interaction of such “matter waves”, we can understand exactly how gravity affects even single antiparticle, thus overcoming the main problem of experiments with antimatter: its lack, especially in significant quantities.

Mr. Mueller and his colleagues are working to develop such an experimental setup program ALPHA , led by the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Switzerland. To fully understand their difficulties, recall that this organization is capable of today, only the creation of 300 antihydrogen atoms per month. Yes, fans of the “black holes generated apocalyptic Hadron Collider” will say that it is good: at least if that, the explosion will be weak, but honestly – this research is very small.

Holger Mueller & Co. have published calculations regarding how to determine the behavior of antihydrogen in the experimental chamber. Scientists believe that the first experiments will give them the same accuracy of about 1%, and in the future it will be possible to raise it 10 000 times and thus bring to a level that will accurately tell – whether antihydrogen falls in a gravitational field or taking off. And, characteristically, whatever the result – believe me, a flurry of findings of various scientific groups in this case, guaranteed.

Report on a study published in the journal Physical Review Letters .