back to article Boffins trapped antiprotons for days, still can't say why they survived the Big Bang

One of the outstanding questions in physics is why matter and antimatter didn't wipe each other out at the Big Bang?” A new, hyper-accurate measurement of an antiproton characteristic at CERN leaves that difficult question entirely intact. In Nature last week, boffins from the CERN BASE (Baryon Antibaryon Symmetry Experiment) …

  1. Joe Werner

    The universe will now disappear

    in a puff of logical smoke ;)

    Cool stuff, I'll read the paper later when the VPN works as advertised... not sure if my end is the problem or the uni :/

    1. ExampleOne

      Re: The universe will now disappear

      If reality doesn't match theory, discard reality.

      1. malle-herbert Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: The universe will now disappear

        "I reject your reality and substitute my own !"

        1. Khaptain Silver badge

          Re: The universe will now disappear

          How can we prove that the universe actually exists outside of our own minds ?

          1. TechnicalBen Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: The universe will now disappear

            Your mind must be better than mine then! So rather easy from my point of view!

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The universe will now disappear

            > How can we prove that the universe actually exists outside of our own minds ?

            What difference would it make if it didn't?

          3. Surreal
            Mushroom

            Re: The universe will now disappear

            Phenomenology? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9-Niv2Xh7w

          4. Captain DaFt

            Re: The universe will now disappear

            How can we prove that the universe actually exists outside of our own minds ?

            Well for me it's simple: Contemplating the wonders of the Universe, and the near infinite combinations of crass stupidity and sublime genius inherent in most people, I couldn't dream this stuff up if I lived a billion lifetimes!

          5. oldfartuk

            Re: The universe will now disappear

            See the John Carpenter movie "Dark Star" where the crew discuss this exact problemn with an AI planet buster bomb.

            althought the bomb DID go off neverther less.

      2. LaFin

        Re: The universe will now disappear

        Half of the UK have already done that.....

      3. Nial

        Re: The universe will now disappear

        "If reality doesn't match theory, discard reality"

        Ah, so you're a climate 'scientist'?

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: The universe will now disappear

          "If reality doesn't match theory, discard reality"

          Ah, so you're a climate 'scientist'?

          Ah, so you're a climate science denier.

          If you liked denying climate science, you may also like:

          • Denying evolution
          • Homepoathy
          • Crystal healing
          • Donald Trump

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The universe will now disappear

            "Ah, so you're a climate science denier."

            Err...so speaks a non scientist

            Scientists must always question any hypothesis, which current climate models are as they don't predict what is happening currently (always jam tomorrow).

            Any Theory and even Laws must be constantly questioned if you are a real scientist, that is how we discover new science!!!

            The photoelectric effect was not predicted by classical physics and Einstein initiated the idea of photons to solve it (what he got his Nobel prize for), this was the beginning of quantum mechanics.

            Newtons Laws of Gravity were also challenged by General Relativity and proved to be only local approximations lacking a knowledge of spacetime.

            By your definition you would call Einstein a science denier.

            Side note: evolution as suggested by Darwin is no longer considered how evolution works as he was not aware of how DNA works, evolution has evolved. So if you deny Darwinian evolution that is currently the correct thing to do!!

            1. David Nash Silver badge

              Re: The universe will now disappear

              "Scientists must always question any hypothesis, which current climate models are as they don't predict what is happening currently (always jam tomorrow)."

              Question doesn't mean deny. It means look for the evidence, and as I understand it the overwhelming majority of climate scientists look at the evidence and draw conclusions from that.

              "Any Theory and even Laws must be constantly questioned if you are a real scientist, that is how we discover new science!!!"

              Yes if the evidence doesn't match the Theory.

              "The photoelectric effect was not predicted by classical physics and Einstein initiated the idea of photons to solve it (what he got his Nobel prize for), this was the beginning of quantum mechanics."

              This wss not denying anything, it's explaining something that was until then unexplained!

              "Newtons Laws of Gravity were also challenged by General Relativity and proved to be only local approximations lacking a knowledge of spacetime."

              Same as above.

              "By your definition you would call Einstein a science denier."

              Not at all, see above!

              "Side note: evolution as suggested by Darwin is no longer considered how evolution works as he was not aware of how DNA works, evolution has evolved. So if you deny Darwinian evolution that is currently the correct thing to do!!"

              Darwinian evolution has been modified with additional detail (the mechanism of DNA) and tweaked in places, not denied.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: The universe will now disappear

                Name one single climate model that has actually correctly predicted the current climate in the last 10 years not one.

                They are all wrong !!!!

                1. Yes Me Silver badge
                  Headmaster

                  Re: The universe will now disappear

                  "They are all wrong !"

                  Wrong. They are all approximations. Every scientific theory is an approximation; the question is how good (or bad) an approximation. Newtonian mechanics stood until Special Relativity came along, and Special Relativity stood until General Relativity came along. General Relativity and quantum theory are both very good approximations, but since they are inconsistent with each other, they are in fact both wrong in exactly the same way that the IPCC models are wrong - because all approximations are wrong, by your definition.

                  Climate models are hard - much harder than relativity and quantum mechanics, in a mathematical sense. So it's no surprise that they are less good approximations than physics.

                  As for the universe, yes, if it turns out that we're in a freaky area where matter predominates, then eventually we'll annihilate with another freaky area where antimatter predominates. So what? You'll never know about [bit stream suddenly ends]

                  1. Kiwi Silver badge
                    Trollface

                    Re: The universe will now disappear

                    "They are all wrong !"

                    Wrong. They are all approximations.

                    Ah! So you believe that pi=3!

                    1. Paul 129
                      Joke

                      Re: The universe will now disappear

                      Ah! So you believe that pi=3!

                      No pi=4!

                      Read information about squaring of the circle. Didn't some US county try to legislate it?

                      Joke icon, as its amazing how people cannot understand a constant of proportionality.

                      P.S.

                      Actually I reckon pi is taught wrong. Give young kids ( 8 - 12 ) a number measuring wheels with different diameters (stupidly small and stupidly large for teachers). Measure graph and explain proportions, linked to circles, done.

                  2. oldfartuk

                    Re: The universe will now disappear

                    Well the problem with Climate science is, as Karl Popper pointed out, its total lack of falsifiability. There must be a set of parameters which show the theory is false. These are usually the opposite of the parameters that show its true. With climate science, EVERY set of parameters is used to 'prove' it, including totally opposite and contradictory parameters. Ergo the lack of falsifiability is, as it stands, s fatal to its credibility.

                    And the other thing that doesnt help is the massive manipulation of data that goes on to make it fit the required graphs. University of East Anglia has been cauight out twice fiddling the data, as well as other bodies, making up, discarding, cherry picking data. Its nonsense. Lets see the RAW data, and see how it fits.

              2. Kiwi Silver badge
                Alien

                Re: The universe will now disappear

                "Any Theory and even Laws must be constantly questioned if you are a real scientist, that is how we discover new science!!!"

                Yes if the evidence doesn't match the Theory.

                Funny you say that, and yet you support the "climate change" guff?

                I said this a couple of years (or more) back, and it's still the same today. I can go to various beaches around the area (example Petone beach) and the sea level is basically unchanged from the late 1800s or early 1900s when the wharf was built (may've been 1907, you can have fun with a search engine).

                Mean and max sea levels are the same as back then, slightly changed since 1840 (but then in 1840 things changed very suddenly and significantly at the time).

                Yet the "climate change" stuff we were being fed not that long ago said we'd have sea level rises of several metres by now, and I'd drown if I tried to stand on the roof of the tallest building in the area without scuba gear (IIRC one quote was along the lines of "Need scuba gear to stand on the World Trade Center")

                Oh, of course. I forgot. It's "Isostatic rebound" which magically exactly matches the rate of sea level rise. Sea level has risen 10m in the last 20 years, but the earth's crust has also miraculously risen by the same amount! Anyone who believes this stuff and also wants to put down Christianity should wonder much about their own mind.

            2. Pat Harkin
              Coat

              Re: The universe will now disappear

              "Scientists must always question any hypothesis"

              I question your hypothesis that scientists must question any hypothesis. By questioning your hypothesis, I hypothesise the existince of hypotheses which cannot be questioned. If my hypothesis is shown to be correct, your hypothesis is thus disproven. If my hypothesis is shown to be incorrect, then your hypothesis is shown to be unquestionable and hence disproves itself.

              I have now typed the word "hypothesis" so often that it has lost all meaning.

          2. Kiwi Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: The universe will now disappear

            Ah, so you're a climate science denier.

            Nope, I don't believe in the IPCC stated reasons for climate change, and especially their much-touted "solutions" that will fix nothing for the mere cost of making things worse. Climate is changing, the rate, causes etc and what the IPCC claim are mutually exclusive.

            If you liked denying climate science, you may also like:

            Denying evolution

            Unproven constantly changing "theory" that has been shown time and again to be rubbish - by people who can understand science and aren't scared to actually promote truth over the other stuff.

            Homepoathy

            Crystal healing

            They're in the same category of "science" as "evolution".

            Donald Trump

            He makes evolution-believers look sane!

          3. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

            Re: The universe will now disappear

            @Loyal Commenter

            Crystal healing

            Dilithium Crystals excepted!

  2. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Devil

    anti-particles "moving backwards in time" ?

    here's a thought...

    I once heard, from a reputable engineering person that might actually know stuff about theoretical physics, that anti-particles are [or are suspected to be] particles moving backwards in time. This is mostly because they have opposite spin, so "in theory" maybe it's true, like observing a coin flip creates a reality and a theoretical universe where "the opposite" came up, right?. OK fine, Schroedinger's cat IS both alive and dead [as stated in an article a couple of years ago, on El Reg even, when it was proved by experimentation].

    I occasionally glean interesting information about such things on "teh intarwebs", some of which may be valid, and a lot of which falls into the perpetual motion category of bullcrap "science".

    Today I'm thinking, WHAT IF it's true that anti-particles move backwards in time?

    Well, at the big bang, was there time *BEFORE* the bang? Answer: no.

    So, how can it create ANTI-PARTICLES??? And now you have it!

    1. malle-herbert Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: anti-particles "moving backwards in time" ?

      Time is nothing more than entropy...

      So anti-particles moving backwards in time would fit nicely in the "bullcrap" category...

    2. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: anti-particles "moving backwards in time" ?

      I'm not sure this antiparticles moving backwards in time makes much sense, to be honest. First, both particles and antiparticles have positive spin, because spin is a magnitude. If electrons are paired, one has spin 1/2 and one has spin -1/2, but that just means that one is a 'vector' in the opposite direction to the other, there is no sense in which one is negative and one positive.

      Second, when a neutron decays, a proton, electron and antineutrino are created. How does that antineutrino know to be there if it's going back in time? (One solution is that there are antineutrinoes everywhere, just itching to be part of a neutron decay, but that is a bit of a cop out, as although there are lots of antineutrinoes, they aren't everywhere.)

      I think what is meant is that the laws of interaction work the same for anitparticles with negative time as particles with positive time. But that doesn't mean to say that antiparticles travel backwards through time, any more than since I was somewhere else yesterday I will travel backwards to there through time. Antiparticles cannot send information to the past.

      1. James 51 Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: anti-particles "moving backwards in time" ?

        @DavCrav Have you done some of the science writing for star trek?

      2. Christoph Silver badge

        Re: anti-particles "moving backwards in time" ?

        "Second, when a neutron decays, a proton, electron and antineutrino are created. How does that antineutrino know to be there if it's going back in time?"

        Similar to the way that Quantum Electrodynamics works. You predict the way that a photon will travel by looking at all the possible paths that it might take, however unlikely, and add them all together (that is of course horribly oversimplified). The antineutrino could take all possible paths and settle on the one that gets to the interaction that 'creates' it.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: anti-particles "moving backwards in time" ?

          or from the perspective of the antiparticle that was ejected from a nucleus (or a neutron, etc.), it arrives to create that very nucleus/particle that it was allegedly being 'ejected' from...

          then again, anti-time really just has velocity going "the other way" along the time axis. We experience time in motion, so anti-time [I suppose] would be moving 'the other way'.

          If time were created in the Big Bang then it would have been created ALL ALONG THE AXIS like everything else. So all time events were created simultaneously, but "not at the same time". OK is that too esoteric?

    3. Doctor_Wibble
      Paris Hilton

      Re: anti-particles "moving backwards in time" ?

      I remember reading a theory about electrons doing this? Long enough ago to be even more vague than usual - where a particle or possibly a quantum thingy is emitted but is met halfway by an equal and opposite one to neutralise it.

      The question being how does the other one know it will be needed unless it knew in advance or is in fact in a constant state of going through time backwards so it left its own source at the same time as the other one and they met in the middle and neutralised but how does that work because we don't do time travel outside of Dr Who and that one when SG-1 went to 1969 and quite frankly there's no way in hell that half a dozen truck engines will generate enough power to make the thing work but we let them get away with it because it was a fun episode?

      *and breathe*

      1. Rob D. Bronze badge
        Pint

        Re: anti-particles "moving backwards in time" ?

        Beer for the appropriate and necessary use of the term 'quantum thingy'.

    4. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: anti-particles "moving backwards in time" ?

      The idea of antiparticles being particles travelling backwards in time is built into Feynman diagrams. (Let me quote Wikipedia, "Thus, antiparticles are represented as moving backward along the time axis in Feynman diagrams.") So, yes, when an anti-neutrino arrives at a beta decay it is arriving from the future. Whether this is true in reality or a convenient fiction is another matter, but it's consistent with relativity where time is only a coordinate and makes the maths work.

      Where Bob goes wrong is speculating that antimatter isn't created. The semi-rigorous take on this is that anti-matter was created but went backwards in time. So the Big Bang spawned two universe one with positive and one with negative time.

      1. lorisarvendu

        Re: anti-particles "moving backwards in time" ?

        "So the Big Bang spawned two universe one with positive and one with negative time."

        Hmmm...so if this is the case, we have a universe composed of anti-matter (call it the "anti-verse") moving backwards in time, and a universe (the "posi-verse") of matter moving forwards in time.

        What we know of the posi-verse (where we live) is that it appears to have no naturally-occurring anti-matter in it. So one could assume that the anti-verse has no naturally-occurring positive matter in it.

        But if the anti-verse is created in the Big Bang, and goes backwards...then presumably it is created at the end of its life, in the same way as the posi-verse is created at the beginning of its life. So this would mean the anti-verse starts out running backwards from a Big Crunch. Which means the anti-verse has a definite beginning and end...only from our POV seen in reverse. But if that is the case, then it must mean that our universe also has a beginning and end - it dies in a Big Crunch, which occurs in tandem with the anti-verse's Big Bang.

        Ok, so we have two universes essentially moving "past" each-other in parallel, both heading from Big Bang to Big Crunch, but in opposite directions. Who's to say that they're not actually the same universe, only seen from different perspectives? Presumably there is a singular moment halfway through each of their long existances where both universes are absolutely identical...before they move apart once more, one compressing backwards in time, the other expanding forwards.

        Does rather sound like the sort of story Isaac Asimov would have written.

        1. Not also known as SC

          Re: anti-particles "moving backwards in time" ?

          "But if the anti-verse is created in the Big Bang, and goes backwards...then presumably it is created at the end of its life",

          No, because the entire anti-verse would be aging but just through 'negative' time. Imagine a cone with its point placed on the mirror. The further you are away from the point, the further you are from the cones' 'creation'. The real cone is our universe, and the mirror image of the cone would be the anti-verse. Both start at a point and expand away from that point. However each universe is moving away from its creation point and an observer wouldn't know which universe they were in, both universes would show the same expansion etc.

        2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

          Re: anti-particles "moving backwards in time" ?

          "...then presumably it is created at the end of its life...So this would mean the anti-verse starts out running backwards from a Big Crunch.

          There is one "explosion". Antimatter particles zoom off backwards in time, building ever more complicated structures (antimatter atoms, antimatter stars and antimatter galaxies) while normal particles do the same in the forward direction; i.e. the antimatter universe is created at the beginning of it's anti-life. (More formally, "both" "universes" are created in a low entropy state and entropy proceeds to increase in their respective time direction.)

          Typically a Big Crunch is seen as being akin to being sucked into a giant black hole: it's a merger of complicated systems (i.e. it's a high entropy event). So, yes, we would see antiparticles converging at our big bang from some point in our distant past. But it wouldn't look like a Big Crunch as we'd experience it. And to argue that's what's happening would be to argue that negative numbers start at minus infinity and proceed to increase until they reach zero: it's technically correct but not practically useful; better to say negative numbers start at zero and decrease towards (minus) infinity. In particular, intelligent life composed of antimatter and living in the antiuniverse would see cause and effect rippling outwards form the same big bang that created us, just like we do.

          Time reversing Big Bang-Big Crunch scenarios do exist. I think yours has the added disadvantage that all matter has to be converted into antimatter. At any rate, the idea of there only being one electron travelling backwards and forwards was proposed by Wheeler to Feynman, and inspired him in the design of Feynman diagrams, which is where we started.

          1. lorisarvendu

            Re: anti-particles "moving backwards in time" ?

            "Time reversing Big Bang-Big Crunch scenarios do exist. I think yours has the added disadvantage that all matter has to be converted into antimatter."

            That's the bit I'm not sure about. If we could somehow view this hypothetical universe, would we see it like a movie being run backwards? (ignoring the fact that photons would presumably be absorbed where in our universe they would normally be emitted, so we wouldn't see anything) So from our point of view we would see matter falling out of black holes and coalescing into suns? I can't get my head round the concept that a universe formed in a Big Bang that then proceeds backwards in time, hasn't emerged from a played-backwards collapse.

            This is the trouble with reading sci-fi but not understanding cosmology.

        3. Mark York 3 Silver badge
          Alien

          Re: anti-particles "moving backwards in time" ?

          Sounds rather like "A Matter of Balance" from Space:1999 second series.

          Unfortunately written by Pip & Jane Baker best\later known for crimes against script writing for Doctor Who.

          http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0706310/plotsummary?ref_=tt_ov_pl

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: anti-particles "moving backwards in time" ?

        "So the Big Bang spawned two universe one with positive and one with negative time."

        ... and if it is possible for fragments of the -ve time uiniverse to appear in the +ve time one then that would explain Withernsea.

      3. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: anti-particles "moving backwards in time" ?

        "So the Big Bang spawned two universe one with positive and one with negative time."

        I like that. makes more sense, yeah. It also "balances" like most atomic things [the reason why the question of 'why is there no anti-matter']

    5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: anti-particles "moving backwards in time" ?

      "anti-particles are [or are suspected to be] particles moving backwards in time."

      I think this was one of Feynman's notions, possibly in conjunction with Wheeler. It's in one of his books. The suggestion was that there was only a single electron zipping forwards & backwards (as a positron). It explained why all electrons looked alike - they were the same electron. I don't think they took the idea very far.

      1. Not also known as SC

        Re: anti-particles "moving backwards in time" ?

        "The suggestion was that there was only a single electron zipping forwards & backwards (as a positron). It explained why all electrons looked alike - they were the same electron. I don't think they took the idea very far."

        I remember this being taught when I was at University in the late eighties.

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: anti-particles "moving backwards in time" ?

        "I think this was one of Feynman's notions"

        Feynman sells books when he says things like that. I just get downvotes from the 'Howler Monkeys'.

    6. deconstructionist

      Re: anti-particles "moving backwards in time" ?

      Baryon's or Antibaryon's both move through time at the speed of light is one direction forward.....next

    7. swm Bronze badge

      Re: anti-particles "moving backwards in time" ?

      If you look at the mathematics of a photon scattering off of an electron you have to include a term containing positrons. This is a mathematical construct. It is true that the mathematics of a positron are that of an electron traveling backwards in time. Feynman diagrams are merely a computational aid to writing down the correct quantum field equations. If you look at the rules an antiparticle acts like a particle traveling backwards in time.

      But this is just the mathematics. The physics content is the identification of a mathematical construct with a physical "reality". You start with a physical situation, map it into the appropriate mathematical construct, perform mathematical operations, and map the result back to a physical situation. The intermediate calculations don't map to reality - especially in quantum field theory.

      1. lorisarvendu

        Re: anti-particles "moving backwards in time" ?

        "But this is just the mathematics. The physics content is the identification of a mathematical construct with a physical "reality". You start with a physical situation, map it into the appropriate mathematical construct, perform mathematical operations, and map the result back to a physical situation. The intermediate calculations don't map to reality - especially in quantum field theory."

        Ah gotcha. Like the imaginary number "i". There isn't a "real" dimension where numbers are all imaginary, it's just a construct to allow you to continue past the thorny "square root of minus one" bit.

      2. MT Field

        Re: anti-particles "moving backwards in time" ?

        But still there are teams currently attempting to measure the weight of anti-matter - that is determine if the interaction with gravity is exactly the same as normal matter, or otherwise ..

  3. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Maybe Douglas Adams was right and the universe is like a giant pendulum and goes back and forth? Therefore what is an anti-particle in this universe will be a normal one in the next.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why not posit that (in any given big bang) there will be some excess of one or the other polarity of matter, as a result of Quantum Uncertainty?

      I know I know, not very rigourous. Just my 'gut' feeling, really.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        "Why not posit that (in any given big bang) there will be some excess of one or the other polarity of matter, as a result of Quantum Uncertainty?

        I know I know, not very rigourous. Just my 'gut' feeling, really."

        The obvious cheat solution is the anthropic principle. We cannot see all the universes where matter and antimatter annihilate each other, only ones that don't have this property.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          We can...

          See all the other universes. We know some of the probabilities that are required to make those universes. We also know some of the available space for life to exist.

          The two still don't match up enough to conclude it was a pure fluke. And as other discoveries show, life did not magically appear by chance as Boltzmann brains, it was a gradual and refined process. Likewise with star formation, galaxies and finally... do you suggest the Universe is a break in that rule?

      2. Captain DaFt

        Why not posit that (in any given big bang) there will be some excess of one or the other polarity of matter, as a result of Quantum Uncertainty?

        Not that difficult to envision.

        During the early yocto seconds of the Big Bang, in the "primordial soup" stage when particles were very close together, particles and anti-particles would bang into each other at random, instead of each hitting its exact counter part.

        For instance, a muon banging a positron would release energy plus quarks, since the muon has greater mass.

        Enough mismatches like that would result in an random imbalance of matter and anti-matter, and further annihilations would see one or the other become dominate.

        At least that's how I view it.

    2. Zolko

      age of Universe

      @ Mark 85 : "Maybe Douglas Adams was right ..."

      ... and the Universe was not created at age T=0, but, say, at age T=1µs, after the cosmological inflation and when matter has already been formed. Would solve 2 fundamental questions about cosmology: symmetry matter/antimatter, and size of the Universe.

      Of course, that would also prove that God exists, which is a dangerous thing to do. And that would raise the question about who created God ... a meta-God ?

      1. Not also known as SC
        Coat

        Re: age of Universe

        "and the Universe was not created at age T=0, but, say, at age T=1µs,"

        T=1µs is a very long time in the creation of the universe...

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronology_of_the_universe#Very_early_universe shows some 'epochs' during the universe's creation.

        Planck epoch: Times shorter than 10^−43 second

        Grand unification epoch: Between 10^−43 second and 10^−36 second after the Big Bang

        Inflationary epoch: Before ca. 10^−32 seconds after the Big Bang

        Electroweak epoch: Between 10^−36 seconds (or the end of inflation) and 10^−32 seconds after the Big Bang

        Electroweak symmetry breaking and the quark epoch: Between 10^−12 second and 10^−6 second after the Big Bang

        and we're finally at the 1µs mark.

      2. Rob D. Bronze badge
        Coat

        Re: age of Universe

        Everyone knows the universe was created at T=42.

        1. Captain DaFt

          Re: age of Universe

          Everyone knows the universe was created at T=42.

          Or something almost, but not quite, entirely unlike T, eh? ☺

      3. oldfartuk

        Re: age of Universe

        "@ Mark 85 : "Maybe Douglas Adams was right ..."

        ... and the Universe was not created at age T=0, but, say, at age T=1µs, after the cosmological inflation and when matter has already been formed. Would solve 2 fundamental questions about cosmology: symmetry matter/antimatter, and size of the Universe."

        Yes but as there was no spacetime, you cant define the interval betoween the eruption of the Calabi Yau manifold beyond the Planck length and the uncompactification of 4 of its dimensions. So surely t=+1uS is effectively, and to any method of determination, t=0 ?

  4. herman Silver badge

    Simple

    The big bang was the moment when the luggage handler cherubs dropped the universe packing crate from the trolley onto the gods' runway. When the crate split, the anti-particles were stolen and the little cherubs are still playing with them, but over time, most were lost in the carpets and got vacuumed up.

    1. Flatpackhamster

      Re: Simple

      As good an answer as we're likely to see in our lifetimes.

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Simple

        Alternatively, the delivery man brought all the antimatter to the universe next door but forgot to put a note in ours telling us about it (happens all the time).

    2. breakfast

      Re: Simple

      "And as the baggage cherub of time tips the packing create of the universe onto the the runway of existence I see that it's time to end the show..."

      1. A K Stiles
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Simple

        Braaa aaa aaa aaa aaah

        Wuuu uuu uuu uuu uuur

        Dooo ooo ooo ooo oop-de-do

        Dum de ump-dum-dum

        Doop de-ooop de dooo...

        (Paris, 'cos she doesn't have a clue either!)

  5. frank ly Silver badge

    Does it matter?

    It's the magnetic moment of a proton and antiproton that has been measured as being equal, hence more confirmation that antimatter is the exact equal but opposite of matter. This makes it even more puzzling as to why there is so much more matter than antimatter in the observable universe.

    The theory is that equal amounts of matter and antimatter should have been created in the Big Bang, which should then have gone on to destroy each other. One idea was that small differences between the deep structure and properties of antimatter and matter made it more likely that matter would somehow be preferred over antimatter. This idea is now looking less likely.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. DropBear Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Does it matter?

      Maybe the Big Bang WAS most of the matter and antimatter annihilating - we're just the leftovers, proof that even cosmic-scale terrorists are crap at measuring precisely one mole of matter to each mole of anti-matter...

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: Does it matter?

        @DropBear, so you're suggesting that the observable imbalance between matter and anti-matter in the Universe is a rounding error from a *much* larger equation?

        That would explain the bang then :)

      2. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Does it matter?

        But that implies that before the BB there was a lump of anti-matter heading towards a lump of matter so spacetime ( of some sort) existed before the BB,the more you look at it the more it looks like turtles all the way down.

    3. FozzyBear Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Does it matter?

      I fine with eventually knowing the answer to this question. Just so long as it leads to more questions

  6. AustinTX

    If it isn't inside, it's outside.

    We have an asymmetric distribution of matter type, though the types themselves are symmetric. Therefore, an outside force cast them this way. Whatever triggered the Big Bang itself had a bit of a spin, which favored matter.

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: If it isn't inside, it's outside.

      That is a nice story, but not science. Hence the experiment and looking for repeatable experiments and observations.

      Mine is the one with the toy Universe in the pocket, but stand back, it's about to go bang!

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: If it isn't inside, it's outside.

        So just happy to see us? :)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Like many here....

    ...I want to comment on something I really don't understand so errr yes it's something to do with Pink Fairy Armadillos....(yes they do exists)

  8. Doctor_Wibble
    Boffin

    Dark-matter clingfilm, dark-energy static

    I don't see the mystery here, they were clearly kept insulated by bubbles of dark matter that were maintained in coherent layers by dark energy.

    Though probably not so much like bubblewrap, more like when you are trying to get rid of a load of packaging and all those antiprotons are like the small bits and balls of polystyrene that stick to the bin and the outside of the bag instead of going in.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dark-matter clingfilm, dark-energy static

      Look up at the sky. Do you see a giant ball of fire engulfing everything? Then no, anti-matter is no longer up there, as even if in the void between galaxies and fine structure, it would glow so hot we could see it as collisions would be so often.

      1. Doctor_Wibble
        Trollface

        Re: Dark-matter clingfilm, dark-energy static

        Wonders of the universe no.284, something that is surely the offspring of a Latin translation and a haiku.

    2. Flashfox

      Re: Dark-matter clingfilm, dark-energy static

      Two possibilities:

      1. Dark Matter has more influence in our universes that anyone can have imagined.

      2. We are all in "The Matrix" and the computer program was hacked to create an impossible imbalance.

      I like #2. After all, this is "The Register" :-)

  9. Kiwi Silver badge
    Angel

    It's God wot done it :)

    (You're looking for the the arrow on the right, right?)

    1. LDS Silver badge
      Devil

      And on the seventh day, while he was sleeping, the Devil stole the antimatter to have enough fuel to power hell's flames until the end of time?

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Devil

        And on the seventh day, while he was sleeping, the Devil stole the antimatter to have enough fuel to power hell's flames until the end of time?

        Could be :)

      2. lorisarvendu

        "And on the seventh day, while he was sleeping, the Devil stole the antimatter to have enough fuel to power hell's flames until the end of time?"

        Unfortunately he would have to steal an equal amount of matter to provide the energy from mutual annihilation. Which kinda puts us back at square one.

        1. LDS Silver badge
          Devil

          "Unfortunately he would have to steal an equal amount of matter"

          Where do you believe the matter scooped up by *black* (as the devil) holes go? Lucifer forgot to steal the matter also, so he had to steal it "slowly" (as much as a galactic big black hole can be "slow"), now.....

          Maybe I'm giving too many foolish suggestions to creationists, though...

  10. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Holding them for days at a time is impressive, given Neutrons last < 15 mins outside an atom

    Before decaying into a Proton and an Electron.

    So very impressive experimental technique. But it's true.

    Big Bang --> X amount of particles + X amount of anti-particles.

    stability of particles = stability of anti-particles (unless they hit each other)

    --> either universe never gets beyond huge energy shower or somewhere there are huge piles of antimatter (what happens if this is true is a plot devices for James Blish's novel "A Clash of Cymbals.")

    Unless "something" has stripped most (all) of that naturally occurring anti-matter out of our universe (aliens from another using it as a power source? Julian Assange? Who knows).

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Holding them for days at a time is impressive, given Neutrons last < 15 mins outside an atom

      While true that free neutrons have a mean lifetime of about 15 minutes, this experiment was conducted on confined anti-protons. I'm not sure where the neutrons are supposed to come into it?

  11. Nick Z

    Cosmic explosions are often so powerful that they are inefficient at including all available matter.

    When a star implodes and becomes a black hole for example, then a lot of its matter is expelled into space. Only some of its matter becomes a part of the back hole. And even when a black hole attracts matter, then a lot of this matter is accelerated away from the black hole and is expelled as jets of matter. Only some of the attracted matter becomes a part of the black hole.

    Perhaps something like this happened during the Big Bang. The combination of matter and anti-matter produced such a powerful explosion that a lot of the material was expelled away from the explosion, rather than being consumed by the explosion. And the two types of matter might have been expelled unevenly in different directions.

    Which means that there could be an anti-universe somewhere out there, made up of anti-matter, rather than of matter.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      "And the two types of matter might have been expelled unevenly in different directions."

      Still, you have to find a mechanism allowing that - a mechanism/property that allows to differentiate matter from antimatter, and separate them. None of the known forces, and properties of (anti)matter could explain that. Black hole jets are still "symmetric", from this point of view.

      1. Nick Z

        Re: "And the two types of matter might have been expelled unevenly in different directions."

        The thing about the Big Bang explosion is that nobody knows the mechanism of how it happened. It's beyond modern physics theories.

        The difference between matter and anti-matter is their spin direction. They spin in opposite directions. And that's why they destroy each other, when they come into contact with each other. The amount of friction or energy is doubled, when objects spinning in opposite directions come into contact with each other.

        And it's entirely conceivable that the Big Bang explosion itself put a spin on matter and anti-matter. One side of the explosion put a spin in one direction and the other side of the same explosion put a spin in the opposite direction. That's why matter and anti-matter separated without annihilating each other.

        They became matter and anti-matter only as a result of the explosion, which also separated them from each other and made them fly in opposite directions.

        Our Universe might represent only half of the explosion, and the other half, made of anti-matter, is beyond our ability to see, because it's too far away.

        1. Not also known as SC

          Re: "And the two types of matter might have been expelled unevenly in different directions."

          "The difference between matter and anti-matter is their spin direction. They spin in opposite directions. And that's why they destroy each other, when they come into contact with each other. The amount of friction or energy is doubled, when objects spinning in opposite directions come into contact with each other."

          Nice ideas but quantum spin unfortunately isn't the same as spinning around an axis. It has some similarities but the comparison soon breaks down. Spin numbers can have half values or be integer values and although spins states have been changed, it isn't possible to 'speed up' or 'slow down' a particle's spin. Rotation which you are trying to compare spin with is about orbital angular momentum caused by the 'physical' movement of the particles, whereas the spin we're talking about here is another form of angular momentum which particles have, but isn't caused by their movement and is intrinsic to the particle.

  12. steelpillow Silver badge
    Boffin

    Symmetry breaking

    Of course, a "particle" spends much of its life as a wave of possibilities. Feynman's sum-over-histories approach considers every possible path throughout spacetime, past present and future. The familiar quantum wave function emerges from this summation and may evolve either forwards or backwards in time. Crucially, the Big Bang and the Big Crunch/Rip are assumed to be mathematically identical perfect absorbers. Break this assumption and the time symmetry is broken. Any asymmetry between the Beginning and End of Time will mean that either the retarded possibilities or the advanced possibilities will predominate. If the balance of matter vs antimatter is a consequence of this symmetry-breaking, then the fact that matter predominates might just tell us something about it.

  13. a pressbutton

    Re: The future...

    how about...

    The universe is big

    Really big

    Yes, there was an equal amount of matter and antimatter.

    Yes, it was randomly distributed.

    We just happen to live in a place where for our observable universe, we see nothing but what we call matter.

    Equally, others happen to live in a place where for their observable universe, they see nothing but what they call matter.

    The other 99.99999(maybe more)% of the unobservable universe is not too friendly.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: The future...

      Because there would be lots of place where they would meet = lots of x-ray emissions we would see

      1. Adam 1 Silver badge

        Re: The future...

        > we would see

        Only if it was sufficiently small....

  14. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    Heresy

    Article» One of the outstanding questions in physics is why matter and antimatter didn't wipe each other out at the Big Bang?

    Maybe anti-matter doesn't behave the way previously postulated and doesn't wipe matter out. This would be in line with the results of the experiment.

    1. Baldrickk Silver badge

      Re: Heresy

      Maybe anti-matter doesn't behave the way previously postulated and doesn't wipe matter out.

      But we do already know that it annihilates when it comes into contact with matter. That isn't in any way disputed or unknown.

      1. Nick Z

        Re: But we do already know that it annihilates when it comes into contact with matter.

        Yes. And given this fact, you also need to conclude that matter and anti-matter didn't come into contact with each other, at the moment of their creation.

        Because this is the logical implication of this known fact and the fact that matter and anti-matter are normally created in equal proportions according to physics theories and equations.

        Which means that the Big Bang explosion must've happened in such a way that matter and anti-matter flew in opposite directions with opposite spins. Because that's the only way they could avoid coming into contact with each other.

        I'd say this one known fact tells you a lot about how the Big Bang explosion must've happened.

        1. Not also known as SC

          Re: But we do already know that it annihilates when it comes into contact with matter.

          When matter / anti-matter collide, the particles are annhilated (converted completely to energy) which is then emiited as photons (gamma radiation). The universe has a background gamma radiation level so we can conclude that annihilation has taken place in the past so at some point in the universe's creation, both anti-matter and matter must have been in the same location. The question seems to be is why there was this inbalance that has left so much matter behind once all the anti-matter has been used up.

          Another fun fact, if you have a gamma ray of the correct energy it can spontaeously turn itself into a positron and electron, (the positron then goes and gets itself annhilated) creating matter out of 'nothing' unless you are happy to consider energy and matter as being the same thing.

          1. David Nash Silver badge

            Re: But we do already know that it annihilates when it comes into contact with matter.

            "unless you are happy to consider energy and matter as being the same thing."

            I thought that one was done and dusted. E=MC squared and all that.

          2. swm Bronze badge

            Re: But we do already know that it annihilates when it comes into contact with matter.

            This would violate conservation of momentum and energy. However, two photons CAN create two electrons as was recently observed at CERN.

          3. MT Field

            Re: But we do already know that it annihilates when it comes into contact with matter.

            "... if you have a gamma ray of the correct energy it can spontaeously turn itself into a positron and electron ..."

            I thought it was always two photons created at the annihilation and also it needs two to interact for the reverse to happen? Because of conservation of momentum.

        2. David Nash Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: But we do already know that it annihilates when it comes into contact with matter.

          "Which means that the Big Bang explosion must've happened in such a way that matter and anti-matter flew in opposite directions with opposite spins. Because that's the only way they could avoid coming into contact with each other."

          It seems to me that the earlier comment about the antimatter flying off in the opposite direction *in time* into another universe with time flowing away from the BB in a different direction than ours sounds like a nice solution. I am not knowledgeable enough to say why this may not be true.

  15. albaleo

    Anti-space

    If we have anti-matter, is the notion of anti-space (or anti-spacetime) feasible? I.e. the space that anti-matter had a preference for when it was created. A bit like men's and women's toilets perhaps - there is general preference for one or the other, but occasionally someone is in the wrong place.

    Just wondering.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Our whole existence is contained within the infinitesimally small period of time between the spontaneous creation of the universe from the maelstrom of possibilities, and its subsequent annihilation due to the perfect balance of particles and their anti-particles.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      From my vantage point, anything within this our universe is far from perfect, and probably has not only been that way from it's very beginning, but actually owes it's very existence to imperfection.

  17. mix

    Evolved ape scientists trap particles using science, wonder how science managed to trap similar particles in a Universe...

    Is that pretty much the gist?

  18. David Roberts Silver badge
    Holmes

    My brain can handle too few dimensions, but...

    ...suppose that there was a point in the dimension loosely called time when everything was at rest. Then there was a big bang of sorts and half the Universe went left and the other half went right and one half was matter and the other half anti-matter. Not 100% pure split, just a bit of contamination in each direction.

    Assume that our observations are limited to our half of the observable Universe. That is, we can see back to the centre but not beyond that into the other half. Not totally unreasonable as we are observing historical phenomena in our half of the Universe using various sorts of radiation which were created a very long time ago, from just after the bang to more recent.

    Think of seeing one side of a light source. You will never see the other half because all the light from that is travelling away from you and getting further away each second. So two roughly balanced halves where what we see as time is moving in opposite directions.

    TL;DR we will never see the anti-matter because it went that way.

    All scifi garble, but how would you disprove it?

  19. RealBigAl

    The Two Universes theories sounds an awfully lot like the background plot of Lexx.

  20. Commswonk Silver badge

    Obligatory Dilbert

    http://dilbert.com/strip/1993-01-01.

    Interesting (or not) I had to go back in time to find it.

    Well, sort of...

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Obligatory Dilbert

      Yes, and you can appreciate the relativistic effects on Dilbert's appearance...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Obligatory Dilbert

      http://dilbert.com/strip/2012-02-21

  21. Toltec

    Antimatter black holes

    What if most of the antimatter ended up in black holes?

    No idea why it would, however it would be convenient.

    1. lorisarvendu

      Re: Antimatter black holes

      "What if most of the antimatter ended up in black holes?

      No idea why it would, however it would be convenient."

      It certainly would. Imagine at the end of Time all the black holes evaporate, and the universe finally collapses into the Big Crunch. Now play that backwards, and there's your anti-matter, all being tidily locked up into black holes in a second universe that is really only our own universe seen from an altered perspective. Very neat...in a sci-fi kind of way.

  22. Peter Christy

    It is all about TIME.........

    It is actually very simple. Cosmologists tell us that time and space are essentially part of the same thing - one can't exist without the other. Newton tells us that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. As far as we've been able to measure, all the mass in the known universe is traveling forward through time at the rate of, er, 1 second per second. That's a whole lot of temporal inertia. So where's the reaction?

    If the Big Bang created equal amounts of matter and anti-matter, perhaps in kicking us "forward" in time, the "bang" pushed the anti-matter "backwards"!

    This neatly explains our motion through time, where all the anti-matter went, and what happened before the Big Bang!

    Of course "forward" and "backward" are relative, as Einstein pointed out. If we could see the anti-matter universe it would appear to be traveling backward in time to us. But from *their* perspective, we would be the ones traveling backwards in time.

    QED.

    ;-)

    --

    Pete

  23. Harry Stottle

    Its only a provisional result

    at 68%, it's only interesting enough to justify further experiments, not to rewrite the text books.

    They don't generally regard these things as settled till they reach or exceed 95% (that, for example, was the trigger for the official announcement of the Higgs Boson)

  24. DougS Silver badge

    Who says particles and antiparticles were created in EXACTLY equal numbers?

    When the early post big bang universe cooled enough for protons and antiprotons to form, maybe there was an equal chance of each, but that doesn't mean it would be a 50/50 split down to the last decimal point. One flavor would be more numerous than the other, and even if most annihilated each other one or the other would have a surplus at the end of it all.

    1. Uffish

      Re: Who says particles and antiparticles were created in EXACTLY equal numbers?

      If, because of the slightly unequal split in numbers, 0.0001% of the original matter was left over - what would happen to it during the almighty whoosh of the matter/antimatter mutual annihilation?

      1. soulrideruk Bronze badge

        Re: Who says particles and antiparticles were created in EXACTLY equal numbers?

        It would be flung out to the far corners of the universe, or should that be, It would be flung out as the far corners of the universe, and everything in between.

        1. Uffish

          Re: Flung out

          Yeah, but my poorly worded question was more about the fireproof and collision resistant qualities of the particles. Elementary particles must be really tough little things if they can stand being big-banged and almost completely but not quite annihilated just afterwards.

  25. Winkypop Silver badge
    Devil

    If you are looking for anti-intelligence matter

    Try; 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington DC.

    There is enough for everyone.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wait a minute...

    HOW old are these boffins?

  27. Martin Budden

    simple answer

    When the Big Bang happened all the matter went *this* way and all the antimatter went *that* way. It's a universe of two halves, we just can't see far enough to see the other half.

  28. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Boffin

    Finally a writeup which makes sense

    This Week's Hype

    Peter Woit blogs:

    Yet another entry in the long line of nonsensical hype about fundamental physics driven by misleading university press releases is today’s news that CERN Scientists Conclude that the Universe Should Not Exist. Tracking this back through various press stories, one finds that the original source, as always, is a university press release designed to mislead journalists. In this case it’s Riddle of matter remains unsolved from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, a press release designed to promote this paper in Nature.

    The paper reports a nice experimental result, a measurement of the antiproton magnetic moment showing no measurable difference with the proton magnetic moment. This is a test of CPT invariance, which everyone expects to be a fundamental property of any quantum field theory. The hype in the press release confuses CPT invariance with CP invariance. We know that physics is not CP invariant, with an open problem that of whether the currently known sources of CP non-invariance are large enough to produce in cosmological models the observed excess of baryons over antibaryons. An accurate version of the press release would be: “experiment finds expected CPT invariance, says nothing about the CP problem.”

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019