In an attempt to solve the mystery of the Universe’s missing antimatter, physicists have achieved the most precise measurement yet of the proton's inherent magnetism.

Publishing in Nature on 28 May1, a group of researchers has mastered a technique to measure the magnetic moment of a proton — the microscopic equivalent of the strength of a bar magnet — with an accuracy of 3 parts per billion.

The experiments are part of an effort to figure out why the Universe appears to be filled with matter rather than antimatter. Antimatter acts as a mirror image of matter, identical but for the flipping of a few key properties. When the two meet, both are annihilated in a flash of energy. Physicists think that antimatter and matter would have been produced in equal amounts in the Big Bang; the fact that there is any matter left at all is a conundrum.

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