Cosmic enigma eyed in new Cern project

2011-09-28 23:10
Geneva - Unravelling one of the great enigmas of the visible universe, why it is made up largely of matter, will be the target of a ground-breaking research project kicked off on Wednesday at a meeting of leading physicists from eight countries.

More precisely, the programme will aim to find why there is so little left of the anti-matter believed to have been present in equal quantities at the "Big Bang" 13.7 billion years ago but which then mysteriously disappeared, or all but.

The Cern particle physics research centre said the programme would be conducted with a new "Extra Low Energy Antiproton Ring", dubbed Elena, which will begin delivering large numbers of tiny anti-proton particles by 2016.

Attending this week's meeting at Cern, which is leading the project to begin in 2013 with the ring's installation, are scientists from Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Sweden and the United States.

"This is a big step forward for anti-matter physics," said Walter Oelert, pioneer expert at Cern - home to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) "Big Bang" machine - which said last week researchers had tracked particles travelling faster than light.

Anti-matter was discovered in 1932 after decades of theorising, and was quickly absorbed into science fiction with its capacity to destroy any ordinary matter it touches.

The matter is converted into instant energy, a fact that has led to speculation that such reactions could fuel ultra-fast spacecraft for inter-stellar travel or be adapted for military use as a trigger for nuclear weapons.

Anti-matter, matter with negative gravity, has already been used in cancer treatments, some developed at Cern, but spokesperson James Gillies said Elena would focus on pure physics.

More anti-protons

One of the prime questions facing researchers is why matter and anti-matter did not destroy each other at the time of the Big Bang, making creation of the universe and the emergence of life impossible, and why matter came out on top.

Gillies said Elena was a low-cost project funded out of the 20-nation centre's regular budget but would provide researchers with far more anti-protons than had been possible with earlier installations.

Project head Stephan Maury said Elena, a small decelerator ring to be housed alongside its existing but much less efficient anti-proton decelerator (AD), would deliver the anti-particles "at the lowest energies ever reached".

From the AD, in operation since the early 1990s, the anti-protons must be slowed down by passing them through a series of foil filters, a process that leads to the loss of 99.9% before they reach the experiments.

The new ring through which they will travel will slow them down to under one 50th of the energy of the AD, trapping up to 50% of the particles or more.

Oelet said this would not only greatly enhance the research potential of current experiments at Cern but would also make it much easier to start a wider range of tests on the make-up and behaviour of anti-matter.

Read more on:    cern  |  switzerland  |  research
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
20 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

The world's least visited destination is breathtaking!

Who would have guessed the world’s least visited country would have such spectacular beaches?

 
 

I love summer.24

LOL treadmill fail!
Google’s top searches of 2014
10 of the strangest Christmas traditions around the world
2014's best drone videos

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Any chance to explore the distant shores of things yet to be found will fascinate you. The challenge is dealing with the issues...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.