Science News

CERN makes and traps anti-matter, mystery of science

A technician walks under the core magnet of the CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) experiment at the European Organization for Nuclear Research CERN (Centre Europeen de Recherche Nucleaire) in the French village of Cessy, near Geneva March 22, 2007. CMS is part of five experiments which will study what happens when beams of particles collide in the 27 km (16.8 miles) long underground ring LHC (Large Hadron Collider). REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

GENEVA (Reuters) - Physicists at the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) announced on Wednesday they have created and trapped anti-matter, one of the biggest mysteries of modern science.

In an article in the journal Nature, CERN said it had produced anti-hydrogen atoms -- the opposite of a hydrogen atom -- in a vacuum and kept them viable for about a tenth of a second: “Long enough to study them,” it said.

Some 38 anti-hydrogen atoms have now been trapped long enough for scientists to take a look at them in their quest to understand what happened to anti-matter after the Big Bang explosion that created the universe.

“For reasons that no one yet understands, nature ruled out anti-matter,” Jeffrey Hangst, a spokesman for the “Alpha” experiment, said in a statement. “This inspires us to work that much harder to see if anti-matter holds some secret.”

Reporting by Laura MacInnis