Antimatter might fall up, say physicists

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A paper published this week suggests that antimatter could exhibit antigravity, potentially resolving some of physics' biggest mysteries.


That's what particle physicists are asking after they reported their first direct measurements, published in the current issue of Nature Communications, of gravity's effects on the antimatter equivalent of hydrogen. 

The measurements were taken at CERN, the huge particle physics laboratory on the French-Swiss border. CERN's  Antihydrogen Laser Physics Apparatus, or ALPHA, captures positrons and antiprotons, which are just like regular electrons and protons except that they have opposite charges and quantum "spins," in a vacuum chamber where they combine to form antihydrogen. 

When antimatter comes into contact with ordinary matter, the two obliterate each other in a flash of radiation and other subatomic smithereens (which is why we should all be grateful that Isaac Newton was never struck on the head by an antiapple). So, to get a good look at the antihydrogen before it vanishes, the ALPHA scientists trap it in a magnetic "bottle" that takes advantage of the antiatoms' magnetic properties to hold them in place.

Written By: Eoin O’Carroll
continue to source article at csmonitor.com

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  1. In Relativity, gravity is regarded as curvature of spacetime, and so everything is expected to move in exactly the same way in a gravitational field. Therefore if antimatter falls up then Relativity is wrong!

    • In reply to #2 by Eamonn Shute:

      In Relativity, gravity is regarded as curvature of spacetime, and so everything is expected to move in exactly the same way in a gravitational field. Therefore if antimatter falls up then Relativity is wrong!

      Relativity is already know to be “wrong” – or least have serious problems – at the sub-atomic scale. So this story is not entirely beyond the realms of possibility. However, I admit I don’t see how anti-gravity would arise from the QM model involving gravitons.

  2. @OP – Antimatter might fall up, say physicists

    Or it might not!

    So, to get a good look at the antihydrogen before it vanishes, the ALPHA scientists trap it in a magnetic “bottle” that takes advantage of the antiatoms’ magnetic properties to hold them in place.

    We were discussing other uses of magnetic bottles here :-

    So as well as researching fundamental particles, there could be spin-offs in developing VASIMR rocket engines!

  3. As predicted (I think).

    A few weeks ago I was wasting time on the internet and came across a series of YouTube videos interviewing physicists from the Uni. of Leicester. One of them said that E=MC2 is “wrong”, the correct formula is E2=M2C4. The popular version is derived by taking the square root of both sides. He said that immediately Einstein’s paper came out, a famous physicist realised that mass could be negative, and predicted anti-particles.

    In pop science only other “anti” properties of anti-matter are talked about, for instance a positron is an anti-electron and therefore has positive charge.

    There may be two senses of anti-particle, the original hypothesised negative mass particles, and particles with anti-charge etc.

    Where is Jos Gibbons when you need him? I can’t even remember the name of the YouTube channel to link to (D’oh).

  4. It’s ironic that the article about anti-matter was on the Christian Science Monitor and Christian Scientists don’t believe in the reality of matter. ” Here also is found the pith of the basal statement, the cardinal point in Christian Science, that matter and evil (including all inharmony, sin, disease, death) are unreal.” Maybe, however, they believe in anti-matter.

  5. Instead of turning the magnets off completely, they should have slightly weakened the force and then taken measurements. At least it would be repeatable and they could always change the strength of the field if nothing seems to happen.

  6. While I like the notion that there could be a better explanation for the cosmos as observed than Dark Matter and/or Dark Energy (I never did acquire a taste for that stuff), I’m not placing any bets on this one. We do so want our anti-grav technology, though. Maybe if we all wish hard enough, we’ll get it. Oh, no, that was Peter Pan, wasn’t it? Damn.

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