Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Hunt for Source of All Matter Continues

Artist's conception of a particle collision. 

The question of why humans, the Earth and the universe exist will have to wait, at least for a little while.

A massive underground particle detector has so far failed to find evidence that mysterious subatomic particles, known as neutrinos, can act as their own antiparticles and annihilate each other.

"We haven't seen anything yet," said study co-author Michael Marino, a physicist at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen in Germany. 

If neutrinos are their own antimatter partners, it could help explain a fundamental mystery of the universe: Why matter exists at all.

Too much matter

The universe is made up of tiny subatomic particles, and every matter particle has an antimatter partner with opposite properties. When particles and their antiparticles meet, they annihilate each other in a burst of light.

Current thinking holds that right after the Big Bang that formed the universe, only energy existed, but as the universe cooled, matter and antimatter were produced in equal parts.

If the predictions of the Standard Model — the dominant theory of particle physics that explains subatomic particles — were correct, "you'd expect to produce equal amounts of matter and antimatter," Marino told Live Science.

These particles would have annihilated each other and created a sea of photons, or particles of light, leaving almost no matter behind to form stars, galaxies and everything else, Marino said.

For the rest of the story: http://www.livescience.com/46166-no-majorana-neutrinos-found.html

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