Nuclear scientists at CERN, the world’s largest physics lab, have found a way to “trap” antimatter atoms for more than fifteen minutes using a super magnet.
Antimatter particles are elusive, because they are destroyed when they come into contact with matter. Every element has its equivalent in antimatter. Antimatter seems to have identical properties with matter, except it holds an opposite charge. For example, the scientists trapped antihydrogen, which behaves exactly like hydrogen, but with a negative charge instead of a positive charge.
Being able to maintain particles for such a long time is a huge breakthrough because it will give scientists the opportunity to study the mysterious particles closely.
“We went from two-tenths of a second to 1,000 seconds,” said American scientist Jeffrey Hangst, a spokesman for the ALPHA research team working at CERN.
Capturing antimatter will not only help scientists solve riddles of the universe. Many futurists believe that antimatter has the potential to be an extremely efficient energy source. Unfortunately, scientists are far from capturing enough antimatter to even begin harnessing it for potential energy.
Still, Hangst says that simply being able to capture antimatter “is a big step in demonstrating what we can do and where we can go.”