Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Physicists lead the field in solving matter mystery of the Big Bang

10.12.2003


A University of Sussex-led team of scientists is ahead in the race to solve one of the biggest mysteries of our physical world: why the Universe contains matter.



With the help of a new £2.3 million grant, the team is working on a project to make one of the most sensitive measurements ever of sub-atomic particles. The results, expected within six years, could finally help to explain the creation of matter in the aftermath of the Big Bang.

Physicist Dr Philip Harris, the leader of the Sussex group, says: “Although there are a couple of other teams in the world working in this same area, we’re managing to stay ahead of them, and we are constantly striving to beat our own world record. This is all very exciting for us. With this new development, we are on the verge of a major breakthrough in our understanding of the very origin of matter in the Universe.”


The question that has vexed scientists and astronomers for years is why there is more matter in the Universe than anti-matter. Both were formed at the time of the Big Bang, about 13.7 billion years ago. For every particle formed, an anti-particle should also have been formed. Almost immediately, however, the equal numbers of particles and anti-particles would have annihilated each other, leaving nothing but light. But a tiny asymmetry in the laws of nature resulted in a little matter being left over, spread thinly within the empty space of the Universe. This became the stars and planets that we see around us today.

The only way scientists can verify their theories to explain this anomaly is to study the corresponding asymmetry in sub-atomic particles. It has taken five decades of research to reach the stage where measurements of these particles, called neutrons, have become sensitive enough to test the very best candidate theories. Neutrons are electrically neutral, but they have positive and negative charges moving around inside them. If the centres of gravity of these charges aren’t in the same place, it would result in one end of the neutron being slightly positive, and the other slightly negative. This is called an electric dipole moment and is the phenomenon that physicists have been working to find for the past 50 years.

Using a £2.3 million grant from the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council, the Sussex scientists are collaborating with physicists at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and the Universities of Oxford and Kure (in Japan) to develop a new apparatus to measure the electric dipole moment.

The apparatus is a type of atomic clock that uses spinning neutrons instead of atoms. It will apply 300,000 volts to a container storing neutrons in a bath of liquid helium, which is kept at a temperature just above absolute zero. The clock frequency will be measured through nuclear magnetic resonance. Once completed, the apparatus is predicted to be one hundred times more sensitive than its predecessor.

Jacqui Bealing | alfa
Further information:
http://www.sussex.ac.uk

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Black hole spin cranks-up radio volume
15.01.2018 | National Institutes of Natural Sciences

nachricht The universe up close
15.01.2018 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

Im Focus: A thermometer for the oceans

Measurement of noble gases in Antarctic ice cores

The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

White graphene makes ceramics multifunctional

16.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

Breaking bad metals with neutrons

16.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

ISFH-CalTeC is “designated test centre” for the confirmation of solar cell world records

16.01.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>