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Researchers just announced the first-ever laser-based manipulation of antimatter using a laser to cool a sample nearly to absolute zero, according to a new study published in the journal Nature.

This could help us understand why the universe isn't brimming with antimatter, and represents a big step closer to building the first-ever antimatter models.

Antimatter is the strange and otherworldly counterpart to matter — showing near-identical behaviors and characteristics, but the two types of matter are radically unstable in close proximity. Upon touching,">matter and antimatter mutually annihilate themselves — which makes antimatter unconscionably hard to create and control in our world.

And, until now, it had never been manipulated with a laser.

"Today's results are the culmination of a years-long program of research and engineering, conducted at UBC but supported by partners from across the country," said researcher Takamasa Momose of the University of British Columbia (UBC), who is also with ALPHA's Canadian team (ALPHA-Canada) and lead of the laser's development, in an embargoed release shared with IE. "With this technique, we can address long-standing mysteries like: 'How does antimatter respond to gravity? Can antimatter help us understand symmetries in physics?' These answers may fundamentally alter our understanding of our Universe."

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