When the Universe arose some 13.7 billion years ago, the Big Bang generated matter and antimatter particles in mirroring pairs. So the reigning physics theory goes.


Yet everything we can see in the Cosmos today, from the smallest insect on Earth to the largest star, is made of matter particles whose antimatter twins are nowhere to be found.

On Wednesday, physicists at Europe’s massive underground particle lab said they have taken a step closer to solving the mystery through unprecedented observation of an antimatter particle they forged in the lab - an atom of “antihydrogen”.

“What we’re looking for is (to see) if hydrogen in matter and antihydrogen in antimatter behave in the same way,” said Jeffrey Hangst of the ALPHA experiment at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN).

Finding even the slightest difference may help explain the apparent matter-antimatter disparity and would rock the Standard Model of physics - the mainstream theory of the fundamental particles that make up the Universe and the forces that govern them.

But, somewhat disappointingly, the latest, “most precise test to date”, has found no difference between the behaviour of a hydrogen atom and that of an antihydrogen one. Not yet.

“So far, they look the same,” Hangst said in a video prepared by CERN.

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