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LHC Scientists Create and Capture Antimatter 269

Velcroman1 writes "Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider have created antimatter in the form of antihydrogen, demonstrating how it's possible to capture and release it. The development could help researchers devise laboratory experiments to learn more about this strange substance, which mostly disappeared from the universe shortly after the Big Bang 14 billion years ago. Trapping any form of antimatter is difficult, because as soon as it meets normal matter — the stuff Earth and everything on it is made out of — the two annihilate each other in powerful explosions. 'We are getting close to the point at which we can do some classes of experiments on the properties of antihydrogen,' said Joel Fajans, a University of California, Berkeley professor of physics, and LBNL faculty scientist. 'Since no one has been able to make these types of measurements on antimatter atoms at all, it's a good start.'"
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LHC Scientists Create and Capture Antimatter

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  • antihydrogen (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @03:51PM (#34260172)

    IANAP.. but..

        I think the temporary capture of antiprotons and antielectrons has been achieved before, since it is relatively easy. It is the significant-duration capture of antihydrogen (i.e. antiproton + antielectron, forming an electrically neutral 'anti-atom') which is new ( ? ). Please correct, and scold, me if I am wrong.

  • Re:antihydrogen (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:00PM (#34260318)

    To support the above.. Here is a link to a paper referring to confinement of antiprotons. I do not know the date (how do I find it?), but it was apparently already cited back in 1993.

  • CERN != LHC (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:02PM (#34260334)

    ALPHA project is NOT a part of LHC. It is one of many other project at CERN that does not have much to do with LHC.

  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:02PM (#34260338) Homepage
    Note that production and capture of antihydrogen is not new. There's been prior work trying to use it to test for possible CPT violations. See for example [], [] and [].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:02PM (#34260340)
    Antiprotons are relatively low-energy phenomena, being produced at 1 GeV. The LHC is a HIGH-energy facility, using energies 7000 times higher. Using the LHC to make antiprotons would be ridiculous overkill and counter-productive, since the ALPHA experiment needs antihydrogen at rest. Not every experiment at CERN uses the LHC. In this case, the cool bit of machinery is the Antiproton Decelerator (AD) and ALPHA's magnetic trapping system.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:03PM (#34260362)

    Editors, please!

  • Fox News, really? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:06PM (#34260402)

    Stopped reading after the first sentence...

    Scientists working on the big bang machine in Geneva have done the seemingly impossible: create, capture and release antimatter.

    The "machine" in question does have a name, you know?
    BBC News also has coverage, []

  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:07PM (#34260406) Homepage

    The positive particles (Protons) also have far more mass than negative particles (Electrons)

    Protons are not antimatter electrons. Positrons are antimatter electronis, and they do have the same mass as electrons. The antimatter opposite of a Proton is an anti-proton. The naming system is inconsistent, probably because the original creators of the names did not know about antimatter.

  • by Remus Shepherd (32833) <> on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:08PM (#34260428) Homepage

    No, you are correct. The only difference we *expect* to see from anti-matter is that the electrical charge is reversed. The mass, spin states, etc. should all be the same.

    What the scientists are looking for is the slim chance that anti-matter is different in some way. That would be exciting, because it would tell us something new.

  • Re:antihydrogen (Score:4, Informative)

    by MozeeToby (1163751) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:10PM (#34260472)

    Yes, capturing anti-ions is relatively easy (still quite hard though) since you can just use magnetic fields to confine the anti-matter without it coming into contact with the walls of the container. Getting the anti-protons and anti-electrons to combine into a single atom that stays at a low enough energy level that it can be contained for a significant amount of time is hard, especially since it is neutral and can't be contained with magnetic fields. They managed it here by producing very, very cold anti-hydrogen so that the energy levels were low enough that they didn't immediately annihilate with the regular matter that made up the container.

  • by aztektum (170569) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:12PM (#34260490)

    I'm not trying to rag on Fox News here, but why link them and not CERN's press release page?

    Clicky []

  • by Intron (870560) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:13PM (#34260504)

    Read "Worlds-Antiworlds: Antimatter in Cosmology" (1966) by Hannes Alfvén. Its the original discussion of this topic.

  • by houghi (78078) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:17PM (#34260576) []
    It explains in easy to understand words what it does.

  • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:25PM (#34260700)

    There would have to be a region of space where the matter and anti-matter interfaced, which would produce significant amounts of gamma radiation. We don't see any such interface in the visible universe (I believe current understand says that if it were there our tools are powerful enough to see it) so it would seem that the part of the universe we live in is all matter. I suppose it's possible that the interface lies somewhere outside of our visible universe though.

  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Taibhsear (1286214) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:25PM (#34260708)
  • Re:antihydrogen (Score:5, Informative)

    by Phroon (820247) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:29PM (#34260770) Homepage

    I think the temporary capture of antiprotons and antielectrons has been achieved before

    You are correct. For example the Fermilab Antiproton Source, which creates antiprotons and stores them, has been in operation since 1985 [1] [], while the Fermilab Recycler has held onto a continuous stash of antiprotons for over a month [2] []. And these are by no means the very first machines to capture and store antimatter, I'd have to dig though the history a bit more to find an earlier example.

    Production of Anti-hydrogen (antiproton orbited by a positron) seems to have been achieved in 1995 at CERN, with Fermilab confirming production in 1997 [3] []. But those atoms were destroyed immediately after being created, this is the first time I've heard of anyone successfully storing anti-hydrogen for any long period of time. So yes, the headline is misleading, we've been capturing antimatter for quite some time, it's the fact that you are capturing the neutrally charged anti-hydrogen (antiproton -1, positron +1, total = 0) that's the real news.

  • Link to the Original (Score:3, Informative)

    by ONto (940942) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:32PM (#34260826) Homepage Journal

    Please use this link [] it was the original. Tired of the FOX News links.

  • First time? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Gnaget (1043408) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:32PM (#34260828)
    Scientists have captured antimatter before. I recall an interview with a physicist (I believe Colbert Report) who mentioned they had antimatter captured before. Doing a quick Google search, I found references to captured antimatter going back to 2002: []
  • by jayme0227 (1558821) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @05:01PM (#34261372) Journal

    Because then we wouldn't be able to go laugh at (or cry because of) the comments at

    Some of my favorites from this article:

    Forget terrorists, nukes, and germ warfare. These guys are the real threat. I hope these a*holes dont end up messing everything up before my kid has a chance to live a whole life.

    They don't. The modern scientist is just an imaginative liar.

    Physicist and Nobel Prize winner Dr. Jason Lisle has proven that the earth doesn't have to be billions of years old for light to reach us from distant stars. His theory of Anisotropic Synchrony Convention proves that light traveled at an infinite velocity at the moment of creation. Thus, we can be comfortable with the fact that the earth turned 6,014 years old on Oct. 23. Thanks to the theory of Amyotrophic Lateral Convection, the truth of the Bible in verified.

    14 billion years ago? Where do they come up with that ridiculous number? The universe was made in 6 days by God, thousands of years ago. It is in the Bible. Now they claim to have the substance of Lucifer? End of the year is coming and I guess it's time to dole out new grants.

    The way it looks, some of these guys are just good trolls. However, I've been around long enough to know how hard it is to distinguish extremists from those pretending to be extremists.

  • Re:CERN != LHC (Score:4, Informative)

    by Taibhsear (1286214) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @05:02PM (#34261382)

    To make antihydrogen, the accelerators that feed protons to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN divert some of these to make antiprotons by slamming them into a metal target; the antiprotons that result are held in CERN’s Antimatter Decelerator ring, which delivers bunches of antiprotons to ALPHA and another antimatter experiment.

    source: []

  • RTFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by Khashishi (775369) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @05:07PM (#34261462) Journal

    They use the magnetic moment of the antihydrogen. They trap it for about 1/6 of a second, which isn't very long, considering we can trap charged antiparticles for weeks in Penning-Malmberg traps. But it's still impressive.

  • Re:Personally... (Score:3, Informative)

    by interval1066 (668936) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @05:39PM (#34261958) Homepage Journal

    "...I love how these articles talk about THEORIES like they are pure facts. "

    Not facts, theories. You do however seem to be laboring under some false pretense that scientific method is some kind of ramshackle rim-shot affair, like it doesn't really work, and is only for people who study it. People like you show what an astounding divide exists between science and the lay populace. Not that Science hasn't tried to bridge that divide, People like Sagan and Hawking have tried to do it. Those effort obviously weren't enough. A theory isn't an idea that a person, say YOU, came up with while smoking dope one day and in your haze supposed that an atom in your thumb is like the Solar System.

    Most theories are 90% fact. They are fact right up to the point that experiments can be devised to prove them, then there often comes a point where there is no experiment that can be performed to prove it. Take for example relativity; Einstein was able to show that light is bent by gravity because Arthur Eddington went to the North Pole to observe light from a star bent by an eclipse in 1919. Even that wasn't enough; when atomic clocks and jets were invented in the 1950's a further aspect of relativity was shown. In the field of physics, by the way, quantum theory is the most successful theory ever advanced, it explains 95% of every aspect of physics for the topics it covers.

    This idea you uneducated wretches have that the empirical method is a bunch of guys in white coats talking about crap is just that, crap. You Don't Know What You're Talking About.

  • by cheros (223479) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @06:05PM (#34262348)

    At [] you can read a slightly sarcastic piece about what it would take to hold the quantities that Dan Brown used in his books.

    Nice wry write-up - I like the details..

  • by TempeTerra (83076) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @06:09PM (#34262386)

    Easy, all the particles would have tiny pointy beards if that were the case.

  • Re:How do we know? (Score:4, Informative)

    by John Hasler (414242) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @06:22PM (#34262536) Homepage

    The space between our galaxy and the next one over is not empty. It contains extremely rarified gas. If the next galaxy was made of antimatter there would be a transition region where matter and antimatter would mix, collide, and emit easily detected gamma rays.

  • Re:antihydrogen (Score:4, Informative)

    by rsborg (111459) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @07:13PM (#34263006) Homepage

    "But those atoms were destroyed immediately after being created"

    Does not compute..

    Simple explanation:

    1. Generate antiproton, confine in magnetic field
    2. Generate positron, confine in magnetic field
    3. Manipulate magnetic fields to get them to combine
    4. Combined particles neutralize each other's charge, forming a charge-neutral antihydrogen atom... which is no longer manipulable with magnetic fields ... and quickly reacts with nearby solid matter, annihilating itself.
    5. Newest capability is to use dipole moments to manipulate (weakly) antihydrogen and keep it contained for a longer period.
  • by rubycodez (864176) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @07:33PM (#34263202)

    Not likely, we have a special image of the universe 400,000 years after it formed, the CMB from the "surface of last scattering" which shows that it was matter dominated (and very uniform) when it was 1/1100th it's present size.

  • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @08:48PM (#34263748) Journal
    No but I wish it were possible to annihilate all the inaccuracies in the story! Alpha has NOTHING to do with the LHC other than happening to be in the same lab. These guys need to get the anti-protons down to almost zero velocity so starting with the highest energy machine on the planet would be stupid.

    In fact Alpha uses the Anti-proton Decelerator [] which uses the CERN Proton Synchrotron (PS) which is one of the low energy machines at CERN accelerating protons to only 25 GeV - which is so low in energy that the protons have to be accelerated by another machine, the SPS, before they can even be injected into the LHC for final acceleration!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @08:55PM (#34263806)

    Previous reports from ATHENA (now ALPHA) and ATRAP demonstrated the production of antihydrogen. This is the first report of trapped neutral antihydrogen atoms. This work opens avenues to start making direct and precise comparisons between subtle features of atoms and anti-atoms.

  • by rubycodez (864176) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @10:39PM (#34264682)

    NASA's page is good, see the last 3 paragraphs under the title "surface of last scattering" []

    then could read the whole page from the beginning, good stuff.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 18, 2010 @02:28AM (#34265710)

    While it is true that antihydrogen was produced before, it is not true that it was captured or trapped. This paper is the first report of trapped antihydrogen.

  • by dwye (1127395) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @03:45AM (#34265966)

    How do you know that matter prevailed over antimatter over the *entire* universe?

    Because if there was an antimatter region next to a matter region, the two should interpenetrate some, and the pair annihilation region (from the overlapping interstellar gasses) would put out gamma rays at predictable energies. As there are no such regions visible, any antimatter regions must be quite small (i.e., too small to matter -- the exact minimum size of course depends on your detectors, but is certainly well below the size of a galaxy).

The fancy is indeed no other than a mode of memory emancipated from the order of space and time. -- Samuel Taylor Coleridge