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Why Did Matter Beat Out Antimatter?

The odd behavior of a subatomic particle provides a clue as to why matter beat out antimatter in the early universe. Steve Mirsky and JR Minkel report.

Podcast Transcript: Every Star Trek fan knows that there’s matter and antimatter. But why is there apparently so much more matter than antimatter. Scientific American’s JR Minkel: “Two recent experiments show something interesting is going on in a subatomic particle called the Bs (B-sub-S) meson. It flips between its matter and antimatter forms 3 trillion times a second. But the flipping isn’t quite matching up with the predictions of the standard model of particle physics. We think that in the very early universe there were almost equal parts matter and antimatter.
 
“And the universe back then was acting like a giant cauldron spewing particles. Lot of energy, lot of particles being made, but a slightly higher chance that the particles would be matter and not antimatter—which the standard model doesn’t explain. Now, the odd behavior of the Bs meson could be giving us some clues about why matter won out over antimatter. When the Large Hadron Collider goes online in Europe this year we may finally be able to observe conditions that would really show us what happened in the early universe to make it the way it is today.” See JR’s article “Matter-Antimatter Split Hints at Physics Breakdown” at sciam.com.

—Steve Mirsky

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