Antihydrogen -- it's really cool at CERN!
CERN Press Office
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Congratulations from European Commissioner P. Busquin
The following is a press release of the European Union:
Antimatter is a reality: Commission welcomes CERNs breakthrough in antihydrogen production
EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin today congratulated Geneva-based CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) for producing a substantial amount of antimatter: 50.000 atoms of antihydrogen. CERNs successful experiment will help us better understand the basics of universe, said Commissioner Busquin. Up until now, we knew that antimatter existed, but we had not achieved sufficient critical mass to study it. Now we have solid scientific evidence to look into the very foundations of nature, and to explore scenarios bordering on science fiction, such as parallel universes, antimatter energy production and antimatter-propelled spacecraft engines.
Matter, and therefore everything we see around us, is made out of three different types of particles: electrons, protons and neutrons. In 1920 physicist Paul Dirac discovered the electron had a "twin" particle, identical to it but with an opposite electric charge: the positron. The same is true for any existing particle (proton and antiproton, neutron and antineutron)
When energy transforms into matter, it produces particles and their mirror image, antiparticles, at the same time. To create them, it takes energy, and when they are brought back together ("annihilation", because they disappear into a flash of energy), this energy is released.
Antiparticles can be generated by colliding subatomic particles. Before being delivered to various physics experiments, they must be isolated, collected and stored. CERN has succeeded into providing high energy antiparticles, thereby creating antimatter, with the first "self-contained antiproton factory", the Antiproton Decelerator.
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(end press release of the EU)
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