Scientists at the world's largest particle physics laboratory in Switzerland have found a way to contain antimatter atoms in a magnetic 'bottle' for as long as 1,000 seconds, an eternity in particle physics.
Antimatter, an elusive type of matter that's rare in the universe, has now been trapped for more than 16 minutes — an eternity in particle physics.
In fact, scientists who've been trapping antihydrogen atoms at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva say isolating the exotic particles has become so routine that they expect to soon begin experiments on this rare substance.
Antimatter is like a mirror image of matter. For every matter particle (a hydrogen atom, for example), a matching antimatter particle is thought to exist (in this case, an antihydrogen atom) with the same mass, but the opposite charge.
"We've trapped antihydrogen atoms for as long as 1,000 seconds, which is forever" in the world of high-energy particle physics, said Joel Fajans, a University of California, Berkeley professor of physics who is a faculty scientist at California's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a member of the ALPHA (Antihydrogen Laser Physics Apparatus) experiment at CERN.