In the first moments of the universe, matter overpowered antimatter, its mirror opposite. We may soon find out why.by Frank Close / September 19, 2012 / Leave a comment
Published in October 2012 issue of Prospect Magazine
All cultures have wondered about their origins. Modern physics posits that space and time were born in the Big Bang, some 13.6bn years ago. Science gives no definite answer for why that event occurred, but observations with powerful telescopes and experiments at places like Cern, the particle physics laboratory near Geneva, give us a good understanding of what happened next. We know that matter is, in effect, the result of energy being converted into substantial forms. We know how the energy in the heat of the Big Bang created the basic seeds of matter, and how over the eons these particles have formed galaxies of stars, including our own Milky Way and solar system.
Here on Earth, clusters of septillions of atoms are able to think, and although they are not yet able to comprehend what makes them—us—conscious, they can look out in wonder at the universe, and build machines that can revisit our origins in the Big Bang. Out of this has come an astonishing discovery. Matter is not the Big Bang’s only child. It was born with a long-lost twin: antimatter.