June 6, 2011
PARIS — Scientists said Sunday they had trapped and stored antihydrogen atoms for a record 16 minutes, a stunning technical feat that promises deeper insights into the mysteries of antimatter.
Particles and anti-particles annihilate each other in a small flash of energy when they collide.
At the moment of the big bang, nearly 14 billion years ago, matter and antimatter are thought to have existed in equal quantities. If that balance had persisted, the observable Universe we inhabit would never have come into being.
For unknown reasons — and fortunately for us — Nature seemed to have a slight preference for matter, and today antimatter is rare.