Saturday, 20 November 2010

The CERN breakthrough and the riddle of antimatter

The Big Bang should have produced equal amounts of matter and antimatter. Image courtesy of NASA.

Joel Kontinen

Researchers at the European Nuclear Research Centre (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland, say they have succeeded in trapping antimatter for a sixth of a second. Although that does not sound like an aeon, in the world of captured anti-hydrogen atoms, it is a longish time.

The scarcity of antimatter is a problem for naturalistic views of cosmology.

According to the current understanding of physics, the big bang should have produced equal amounts of matter and antimatter. However, the universe that we know could not have come about since matter and antimatter would have annihilated each other”, says Paula Eerola, professor of particle physics at the University of Helsinki, Finland.

The big bang has other serious problems as well, for instance the assumed inflation at the beginning that lacks any empirical evidence and defies the laws of physics to boot. In addition, early galaxies grew too fast for the big bang.

Astronomers have often had to prop up the big bang with auxiliary assumptions. In a sense, the big bang with its hard-to-believe additions resembles Hinduism - and can hardly be kept neat with the help of Occam’s razor.

Why is there something instead of nothing? is a question to which naturalistic origins models do not have an answer. The fine tuning of the cosmos has in any case prevented the universe from exploding into pieces at the very beginning.


Antimatter captured by CERN scientists in dramatic physics breakthrough. The Telegraph. 19 November 2010.

Tutkijat vangitsivat antimateriaa. Aamulehti. 19 November 2010, A18.