York’s Eric Hessels contributes to breakthrough about antimatter

Physicists working in Europe, including Canada Research Chair in Atomic Physics at York University, Prof. Eric Hessels, have succeeded in capturing the first glimpse of the structure of antimatter, in the start of experiments that could unlock more of the mysteries of the birth of the universe.

Fast on the heels of the successful production of cold antimatter reported last month by the ATHENA group at Europe’s biggest particle physics laboratory at CERN headquarters (European Organization for Nuclear Research), in Geneva, the ATRAP group of scientists there have managed to examine the internal states of antihydrogen atoms.

“We have been able to make a determination of the atomic states of antihydrogen atoms produced, by passing them through an electrical field before they hit the wall of the apparatus and disappear,” said Hessels, who is part of the ATRAP collaboration based at Harvard University in Boston.

Experiments with antimatter could test some of the basic tenets of modern physics, shedding light on the symmetries of nature which predict that matter and antimatter will have similar properties. They could help explain why the world is made of matter rather than antimatter.

For more details on the findings and their significance, visit the York Media Relations Web site:


or the CERN Web site: http://info.web.cern.ch/info/Press/PressReleases/Releases2002/PR13.02EATRAP.html.