Antimatter

29.03.2015 |

Episode #1 of the course “Strangest Things in Space”

Antimatter can be seen as the opposite of everything we see in our visible world. Everything in the universe is made up of matter—from the air we breathe to the planet we walk on, the stars we see at night, even you and me. Matter in all its forms is made from a collection of particles. Every particle, however, has an antiparticle – that is, its exact opposite. Take electrons and positrons, for example—they both have the same weight and properties, but the positron has a positive electrical charge while the electron has a negative electrical charge. The positron is one of many antimatter particles.

In the same way that 2 and -2 cancel each other out to equal 0 in math, when matter and antimatter collide, they destroy each other in an explosion of sorts. This makes antimatter very hard to work with, and scientists have only been able to create a small amount at any given time. This, combined with the relatively small amount of antimatter that naturally exists in the universe, has made it difficult to study.

Physicists are fascinated by antimatter because of its theoretical possibilities. When the two opposing particles combine and annihilate each other, their energy needs to go somewhere, which has led to ideas for bombs, rocket fuel, or even fuel for our cars.

Perhaps the biggest question surrounding antimatter besides its potential uses is why we have so little of it in the universe. If antimatter and matter are essentially mirror images of each other, why did the Big Bang create so much more matter than antimatter?


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