Until now, measuring and manipulating an atom made of antimatter was just a dream for all physicists. Now, a team of Canadian physicists has managed to break through Science Fiction movies and made it possible to measure the antimatter atom for the first time. Their findings are just opening the door to a whole new chapter in physics.
The reason why antimatter has been so elusive until now is that physicists were having a hard time trying to manipulate an atom without annihilating it. As science goes, whenever antimatter touches matter the result is a transformation that results in pure energy.
Even if for the layperson antimatter seems incredible hard to understand, at least one part is easy to figure out. As scientists explain, all matter particles have antimatter counterparts. They have the same mass but different charges. When they do meet, attracted by each other’s charge they collide and pure energy is the result.
A team of physicists with the University in Burnaby, Canada, have without doubt made the history books. They are the first group to have ever successfully manipulated an antimatter atom to the extent they could even measure it. Head of the team and physics professor at University Simon Fraser stated:
“This is the first time that anyone has ever interacted with an antimatter atom. We’ve performed a measurement. We’ve tried to look for what you might call a sign of a fingerprint of this atom”.
The experiment was a success thanks to a particular technique that Canadian physicists have developed. The technique allows scientists to take a good look at antimatter atoms without annihilating them. Basically, the antimatter atom is trapped in something that acts just like a magnetic trap, preventing it from colliding with matter.
CERN laboratory also tried a similar experiment but without much of a success. Basically, researchers looked at an antihydrogen atom, the counterpart of the simple hydrogen. When antimatter, the hydrogen atom carries one antiproton and one positron. This antihydrogen atom has been caught with a microwave light beam set on a certain frequency. When it interacted with the antihydrogen, the atom ‘s magnetic orientation changed, thus canceling its magnetism.