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Science

Why Are We Made of Matter? 393

Posted by timothy
from the better-than-the-alternate dept.
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "The Universe began with equal amounts of matter and antimatter after the Big Bang, and yet when we look out at today's Universe, we find that, even on the largest scales, it's made of at least 99.999%+ matter and not antimatter. The problem of how we went from a matter-antimatter-symmetric Universe to the matter-dominated one we have today is known as baryogenesis, and is one of the greatest unsolved problems in physics. Where are we on the quest to understand it as of April, 2014? A wonderful and comprehensive recap is here."
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Why Are We Made of Matter?

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  • by kruach aum (1934852) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @01:11PM (#46677581)

    In spite of my better judgement I'm about to attempt an analogy, so bear with me here. The lowest number of moves to unscramble a maximally scrambled rubik's cube (a 3x3x3 one) is 20. That is, for every configuration of a rubik's cube, there is a sequence of 20 moves or less that will unscramble it. However, there is no algorithm to generate those solutions. They are unstructured; they're simply lists of moves. The algorithms used by human (and computer) rubik's cube solvers are far from move-optimal, but benefit from being executable by non-omniscient beings. They pick out some pattern that is applicable to the rubik's cube, and then direct you in manipulating it according to that pattern until it's solved.

    The way science understands the world is by comparing new data to what we already know. For example, we know penicillin kills bacteria; if we discover a new disease, and then discover that it is caused by bacteria, we can safely draw the conclusion that we'll probably be able to treat it with penicillin. We've used science to discover a pattern in the world ('penicillin kills bacteria'), then use deduction to determine where it is and isn't applicable, and form new categories based on what happens when we encounter new data (like bacteria not killed by penicillin being classified as anti-biotic resistant). Science is basically a collection of patterns like this, and because they're patterns (structures, structured rules, whatever you want to call them) we can understand them.

    Now, what I wonder about is this. What if the fact that we live in a matter universe now (rather than an anti-matter one) is like the set of move-optimal solutions to a rubik's cube? They both describe a certain state of affairs, but they also both completely lack (could lack) any kind of structure. And because they lack this structure, there is nothing for us to latch onto, nothing for us to understand, no pattern to detect. It is simply the case, and there is no further reason. There is no reason why there is no structure in the move-optimal solutions to a rubik's cube. There might not be a reason why there is a massive matter/anti-matter imbalance either.

    This is something I've been trying to work out for a while, so please excuse me if my explanation is unclear. I just think it would be a really interesting possibility, something which isn't often discussed, maybe because it simply gets overlooked.

  • by seyfarth (323827) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @01:21PM (#46677651) Homepage
    I wonder if it is possible that the Universe has some regions of matter and some of antimatter. In between there would be mixed regions and the resulting explosions could tend to keep the different regions separate. Initially asymmetry in the distribution would leave some small regions of each type. The m-am explosions could force separation and a certain portion of the matter regions would merge with other matter regions and the same for antimatter. This seems like a fairly obvious thought, so I assume that it has been considered and ruled out. Why or why not?
  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @01:25PM (#46677677)

    tell me something in terms an idiot would understand

    Richard Feynman answered that question with something like:

    "I can't explain it in terms that you would understand, because I can't understand it, in terms that you would understand."

  • by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @01:35PM (#46677747) Homepage Journal
    Occam's razor... the simplest answer is that the universe didn't start out with equal parts matter/antimatter

As in certain cults it is possible to kill a process if you know its true name. -- Ken Thompson and Dennis M. Ritchie

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