Matter, Antimatter, We All Fall Down—Right?
Scientists perform the first direct investigation into how antimatter interacts with gravity.
What goes up must come down, the saying goes. But things might work a little differently with antimatter.
A CERN-based experiment has taken the first step in investigating exactly how antimatter interacts with gravity.
According to standard theories, the gravitational properties of antimatter particles should mimic those of matter particles. If it turns out that there is a difference, it will be a sign of dramatically new physics.
So far, no one has been able to test directly how antimatter interacts with gravity—but the ALPHA experiment has begun to try.
“It was kind of by accident,” says Joel Fajans, ALPHA member and professor at the University of California, Berkeley. “We didn’t set out to investigate gravity, but we realized that the data we had already collected on trapped antihydrogen atoms might be sensitive to gravity.” While the current experiment’s sensitivity isn’t high enough for the team to see an unambiguous affect, this is the first step to more precise studies.