Around 13.8 billion years ago the big bang brought into being the whole universe, yet physicists were baffled that we even came to be. Our current understanding of quantum physics points to our very existence being highly implausible. Theoretically, the Big Bang created matter and antimatter in equal quantities, and it is well known to physicists that when matter and antimatter come into contact, they annihilate each other, therefore raising into question the very being of our universe.
Why is matter found in greater abundance so as to create everything we see, and yet the mysterious antimatter doesn’t collide with the matter enough to cancel its existence? Moreover, the standard laws of physics dictate that both matter and antimatter behave the exact same even if the matter is replaced with antimatter and the universe’s direction is flipped.
This is known as the charge-parity (CP) symmetry and is currently under scrutiny by the scientists in an effort to find violations to this fundamental principle. Any violations of CP, in essence, would represent a different behaviour of the matter and its counterpart to these set rules, and it seems that some progress has finally been made in this endeavour.
On September 16, scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, a part of the LHCb experiment at the Large Hadron Collider submitted their findings to the Cornell University funded arXiv.org.
They reported violations to CP symmetry in the decay of particles called lambda-b baryon. This sheds light on the previously undiscovered CP violations in baryon decay, whilst so far such disparities were only recorded in K and B meson decays. Their results show that the particles created by the baryon decay sped away at various angles different from the standard matter and antimatter versions of the baryon.
Although the levels of CP violations detected do not come close explaining for greater quantities of matter over antimatter in the universe, it’s implications mark the first step in the right direction.
The study is currently submitted for publication at Nature Physics.
The results keep physicists hopeful that further research into the asymmetry in baryon decay should give more insight into the violations of the standard CP symmetry and maybe even provide a solid answer for the formidable question, why does the matter heavy universe exist instead of simply nothing?
– Palwasha Najeeb, Correspondent (Science)