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Precision Physics of Antiatoms: Berkeley Lab Physicists Bound the Charge of Antihydrogen

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Hydrogen is a neutral atom. Its single electron orbits a single proton, and the net effect is no electrical charge. But what about hydrogen’s antimatter counterpart, antihydrogen? Made of a positron that orbits an antiproton, the antihydrogen atom should be neutral too. Various results have indicated as much, but because the charge of antiatoms is

Beyond the Higgs Boson: A Detector Add-on Helps Scientists Look Deeper

Installation of Insertable b-Layer, or IBL into the ATLAS detector of the Large Hadron Collider. Credit: Heinz Pernegger, CERN

Last month, ATLAS, the particle detector that helped find the Higg’s boson, got an upgrade. Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN added a new set of sensors, called the Insertable b-Layer, or IBL, into the core of the detector. The IBL will be closer to particle collisions than previous sensors and contain more,

Does Antimatter Fall Up or Down?

Theory and observations support the view that antimatter experiences gravity just as ordinary matter does, but the evidence so far has been indirect. Indeed, some theorists speculate that antimatter is antigravitational, that it may fall “up” instead of “down.” Led by Berkeley Lab physicists, the ALPHA Collaboration at CERN has made direct measurements of the gravitational mass of atoms of antihydrogen, testing how they fall and in what direction.

A Flow of Heavy-Ion Results from the LHC

The ALICE experiment at CERN is designed to study the quark-gluon plasma produced in high-energy collisions of lead nuclei.

CERN’s Large Hadron Collider collides protons most of the year but switches to massive lead nuclei for a month. Collisions of these heavy ions reproduce the quark-gluon plasma that filled the universe millionths of a second after the big bang. Much of the program for quark-gluon plasma studies is shaped by theoretical and experimental contributions from Berkeley Lab’s Nuclear Science Division, as shown by results from ALICE and other experiments during the LHC’s first lead-lead run just concluded.

Antimatter Atoms Successfully Stored for the First Time

An artist’s impression of an antihydrogen atom – a negatively charged antiproton orbited by a positively charge anti-electron, or positron – trapped by magnetic fields. (Graphic by Katie Bertsche)

Atoms of antimatter have been trapped and stored for the first time by the ALPHA collaboration, an international team of scientists working at CERN in Switzerland. Berkeley Lab researchers made key contributions to the effort, including the design of the trap’s crucial component—an octupole magnet—and computer simulations needed to identify real antihydrogen annihilation events against a noisy background.

Wriggling Neutrinos Caught in the Act

The OPERA detector is housed in a tunnel in the Gran Sasso laboratory. OPERA’s core consists of 150,000 photoemulsion plates sandwiched between lead plates.

The first direct observation of a muon neutrino turning into a tau neutrino at the Gran Sasso underground laboratory in Italy confirms that indeed neutrinos do oscillate among “flavors.” Berkeley Lab’s Kevin Lesko says the result “really nails the neutrino oscillation phenomenon.”

Bay Area’s Berkeley Lab Plays a Major Role as the Large Hadron Collider Enters the Realm of New Physics

Simulation of tracks that would be produced if a miniature black hole were created in a proton-proton collision in ATLAS. Such a small black hole would decay instantly. (Courtesy ATLAS experiment and CERN)

Beams of protons were brought together in the first focused collisions on Tuesday, March 30, at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. The world’s record collisions open a new realm of high-energy physics.

Beams are Back in the Large Hadron Collider

The LHC's 27-kilometer-long string of magnets has been repaired and beams are once more circulating in the world's most powerful particle accelerator. (Courtesy CERN)

After more than a year of repairs, the Large Hadron Collider located at the CERN laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland is back on track to create high-energy particle collisions that may yield extraordinary insights into the nature of the physical universe.

Angels, Demons, and Antihydrogen

The ALPHA experiment at CERN seeks to trap antihydrogen atoms inside a magnetic “bottle” consisting of a superconducting octupole magnet and two mirror coils.

There’s nothing fictional about antimatter. It’s all around us, all the time. Researchers know how to create and store antiparticles, and members of Berkeley Lab’s Accelerator and Fusion Research Division have even helped make antihydrogen atoms at CERN. But gathering enough to fuel a rocket or make a bomb would take so much energy that no one (including the Vatican) needs to worry.