We live in a Universe overflowing with matter, a matter that agglutinates into enormous galaxies, stars or planets, which is exquisitely ordered to give us life and allows us to be aware of the immensity that surrounds us. When we go down the scale to observe the intimate components of any material object, we discover a structure that becomes more and more complex. Current knowledge about the tiniest constituents of the Cosmos has become so complicated that only one theoretical model, the Standard Model, seems to describe the intricate variety of particles and interactions that exist, and not all of them.
There were times when matter was thought to be made up of tiny, indivisible particles we call atoms. We now know that this is not the case, that atoms are systems made up of smaller particles, electrons, protons and neutrons. Of these, only electrons are still considered elementary particles belonging to a larger family, leptons. Protons and neutrons, on the other hand, are structures made up of smaller particles that we call quarks. Both leptons and quarks are generic names that bring together a huge conglomerate of elementary particles that reveal how intricate and complex the world of subatomic particles, neutrinos, muons, pions, bosons, etc. is.
As if this were not enough, it was discovered that, in front of this world dominated by matter, there is another, a world in which the particles look in the mirror and their image has the sign of their electrical charges, and other properties, changed. These particles oppose the matter that forms us with rage, to the point of annihilating each other if they meet. This is the world dominated by “antimatter”.
Every matter particle has its antimatter counterpart. Thus, for example, the antimatter of the electron, which has a negative electrical charge, is the positron, which has a positive charge; the antiproton opposes the proton and so, one by one, each particle has its mirror counterpart in the world of antimatter.
At first it was thought that both worlds, antagonistic, were equally probable, in such a way that for each particle of matter there should be its counterpart in antimatter somewhere in the Universe. But it’s not like that. According to current calculations, for every billion particles of matter in the Universe, there is only one of antimatter. Why is this lack of symmetry? Our guest today on Talking to Scientists, Javier Paul Solerprofessor of particle physics at the University of Glasgow, in Scotland, tries to find an answer to that question with his research.
Javier Soler says during the interview that the Standard Model is not capable of explaining the enigma of the asymmetry between matter and antimatter. To solve the problem, experiments have been designed, such as LHCb, which is carried out in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a huge particle accelerator in which two beams of very high-energy protons collide with each other to measure the decay products of particles that contain quarks and look for properties in the result that can generate differences between matter and antimatter . So far, all the measurements made in this experiment agree with the Standard Model and therefore still do not provide a solution to the problem.
The lack of results that bring us closer to solving the problem forces us to look for other paths, one of them is a theory called “leptogenesis”. Neutrinos participate in leptogenesis, a type of particle (leptons) with tiny mass and no charge, which can cross the entire Earth without actually interacting with matter. To investigate this possibility, Javier Soler participates in an experiment called T2K, in Japan. In this experiment, a neutrino beam generated on the east coast of Japan travels 300 kilometers until it reaches the Super-KamioKande detector located at the bottom of a mine in the mountains of the west of the country. The experiment is designed to investigate how neutrinos change as they travel (neutrino oscillations). The results obtained so far show indications of a different behavior between neutrinos and antineutrinos, differences that, if confirmed, could shed light on the matter-antimatter asymmetry problem.
I invite you to listen to Francisco Javier Paul SolerProfessor of Particle Physics at the University of Glasgow, in Scotland, UK.
#Cienciaes.com #Asymmetry #matter #antimatter #Universe #speak #Javier #Soler