April 30, 2013
Scientists perform the first direct investigation into how antimatter interacts with gravity.
What goes up must come down, the saying goes. But things might work a little differently with antimatter.
A CERN-based experiment has taken the first step in investigating exactly how antimatter interacts with gravity.
Atimatter particles should mimic those of matter particles. If it turns out that there is a difference, it will be a sign of dramatically new physics.
So far, no one has been able to test directly how antimatter interacts with gravity—but the ALPHA experiment has begun to try.
The ALPHA experiment’s main purpose is to trap and study antihydrogen atoms, the antimatter partners of hydrogen atoms. The antihydrogen atoms are held in place inside a tube by magnetic forces. Physicists on ALPHA have trapped more than 500 antiatoms since 2010. They keep them in their trap for up to about 16 minutes. When they turn off their magnets, the antiatoms fall out of the trap. A highly sensitive detector tracks the antiatoms and records where they first come in contact with matter and annihilate.”
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