TIL That Antimatter Can Be And Has Been Measured

in #til4 years ago (edited)


Antimatter is all nice and easy, as long as you don't deal with it. Being just a concept, it doesn't do wrong, nor good, for what matters, to anyone. But if that antimatter comes to matter, so to speak, things are going to be sparky.

In an article published today on CERN home site, I learned that, for the first time in history, physicists were able to measure light spectrum of antimatter. They did this by creating and then trapping in a magnetic field a few antihydrogen atoms. Don't ask me how they did it, because it clearly goes over my level of comprehension.

What they found, in terms of spectrum value, seems to prove the Standard Model of particle physics, which says that the Hydrogen matter and antimatter atoms light spectrum should have the same values.

I think that this discovery, in itself, is very important, but, to be honest, the drive to write this short note was different.

As I was trying to understand how they did it (yes, I know I am limited, but that doesn't mean I should stop learning) I suddenly realized how elusive this all thing is. Scientist are not measuring atoms, they are measuring the spectrum of the light when electrons are moving from one atom orbit to another. It's not like they see those tiny spheres. Nope. They see only what those spheres are doing.

Science measures only the consequences, seldom the causes.

When we look at the stars, we're not seeing the stars. We're seeing some manifestation of them, which has been created very long time ago. When scientists are talking about galaxies, they don't see the galaxies, they are measuring some radio waves and they infer the shape and the size and the direction of movement of something. If you really think at it, this is rather spooky. Not because there is an inherent danger in it, but because of the overwhelming level of uncertainty. We're describing the universe by stacking up inference on top of inference. It's like building a card castle and hoping it won't collapse.

Sometimes I feel like we are just blind people stumbling in an universe filled with stuff we cannot comprehend.

image source: CERN


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Understanding how the universe works and what nature is exactly is one of the current tasks of fundamental physics. And antimatter and the CPT theorem are part of this. We thank you for sharing this news with the Steemit community.

As a bonus, and in addition to resteeming for exposure. We are awarding you a small 5 Steem Power deposit as a thank you for creating quality STEM related postings on Steemit. We hope you will continue to educate us all!

Thank you, much appreciated:)

"Sometimes I feel like we are just blind people stumbling in an universe filled with stuff we cannot comprehend."

This seems to allude to the previous statements about how we measure things. As such, it implies that these things we can comprehend in part you are saying we are blind to, stumbling, and can't comprehend it even if we try because of level of "uncertainty", "inference", etc. Please correct me with a more specific statement on your part, if this is not the case.

Otherwise, I will continue. You seem to mistake being in a vast universe where we can't comprehend everything there is, vs. being able to comprehend some of it. Of course there are things we can't comprehend. We seek to develop ways to uncover more understanding about reality. Corrections are required as we develop more knowledge.

There is not 100% certainty in anything if you want to get into a reductionist perspective, so pointing out uncertainty as a "problem" isn't really saying much.

Also, in addition to implying uncertainty is some big issue, you also imply inference is another big problem, when int isn't either. Further implying this fault of inference and learning about reality, by saying it's a house of cards that we only "hope" won't collapse... LOL. Inferences are how we think, that's reality. How would you expect us to think and form conclusions without inference? As such you're criticism lacks validity.

Thanks for the comment, it seems today is the "philosophy" day on Steemit. I got in another very nice discussion on @dantheman post about consensus.

First of all, it's not criticism, it's opinion. It's my way of seeing things. As for inference on top of other inferences, things are way subtler. What I was referring to was our ability to create reality from suppositions.

For a long time, we thought the Earth is flat.

And then we realized it's round.

And then we thought Sun is rotating around Earth.

And then we realized Earth is rotating around the Sun.

There is no intrinsic way to know when our inferences will be proven wrong again. We simply don't know if our model of the universe right now, this one based on atoms, is actually true. It passes some tests and it fills in some gaps, but that doesn't make it automatically true. For centuries, people were absolutely convinced the Sun rotates around the Earth, because it passed some tests and it filled in some gaps.

Our current way of understanding the Universe, based on science, seems very fragile to me, that's all.

If you allow me to correct one sentence from your post:

What they found, in terms of spectrum value, seems to prove the Standard Model of particle physics, which says that the Hydrogen matter and antimatter atoms light spectrum should have the same values.

This is not directly the Standard Model of particle physics as the latter does not describe (anti)hydrogen at all, but elementary particles instead. We are actually talking more at the level of standard nuclear physics which describes nature at a larger scale.

In contrast, the CPT theorem, which they tried to falsify, is assumed to hold at any scale (both in the Standard Model and in nuclear physics). And this is the CPT theorem that says that the hydrogen and antihydrogen spectra should be identical.

This being said, and to come back to the discussion, it is definitely true we are not "measuring spheres" but instead tracks in a detector from which we can reconstruct what happened at a very impressive level of confidence (even if there are uncertainties, those are under control).

Thanks for sharing this news (I was definitely too late on that one. You may btw be interested in reading a few older posts I wrote on antimatter in the past).

Thanks for the correction, it makes more sense now. :)