The most elite scientists in the world are still struggling to find why exactly our universe didn’t destroy itself as soon as it came into existence. That’s what science says should have happened – but it clearly hasn’t, since you’re here reading this, as far as we know.
At the beginning of the universe, according to the standard model, there equal amounts of matter and anti-matter. The trouble with that is that they would each have annihilated each other, leaving none of the matter that surrounds us today.
Researchers have been frantically looking for some difference between matter and anti-matter that could explain why the universe is still around. But they have tried a range of different possibilities – that they have different mass, electric charge, or something else – but have found no difference.
That has led researchers to question why the universe is still around at all.
“All of our observations find a complete symmetry between matter and antimatter, which is why the universe should not actually exist,” explained Christian Smorra, the author of a new study conducted at CERN.
“An asymmetry must exist here somewhere but we simply do not understand where the difference is. What is the source of the symmetry break?”
The latest possibility was matter and anti-matter’s different magnetism. But new research shows that they are identical in that way too – lending further mystery to the question of why the universe is still around at all.
The universe’s greatest game of spot the difference goes on. The next hotly anticipated experiment is over at ALPHA, where CERN scientists are studying the effect of gravity of antimatter – trying to answer the question of whether antimatter might fall ‘up’.