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Video: Logic tells us that antimatter should have annihilated the Universe. So why hasn’t it?


In 1928, the UK physicist Paul Dirac stumbled on an equation that seemed to show that, for every particle, there’s another, nearly identical particle with an opposite electric charge. Just four years later, the US physicist Carl David Anderson proved Dirac’s prediction correct by capturing a picture of a ‘positron’ – a particle with the same size and mass as an electron, but with a positive charge rather than a negative one. This rapid series of developments unlocked one of the most momentous and enduring conundrums of physics: if particles with opposite electric charges annihilate one another when they meet, why is there any matter left? And if there’s no more matter than antimatter in existence, then the Universe should have annihilated itself soon after the Big Bang – yet, here we are. This brief animation breaks down this extraordinary, nearly century-long science puzzle, detailing some of the surprising explanations posited by contemporary physicists.

Animator: Eoin Duffy

Writers: Justin Weinstein, Brian Greene

Websites: World Science FestivalStudio Belly

Text: Aeon

Running time: 3:50

Email subscribers may click on the title of this post to watch the film.

Image: Institute of Physics

2 comments on “Video: Logic tells us that antimatter should have annihilated the Universe. So why hasn’t it?

  1. melpacker
    May 24, 2020

    This is GREAT. I know, admit it, you like awake at night wondering how come anti-matter and matter have not annihilated each other which would mean the annihilation of all that we know, the earth, the moon, the ….well, you know, even your hoard of Covid-19 toilet paper!! Oh no, not that! Anything but that! So…have a look, it’s only about 4 minutes but I warn you….you’ll still be wondering and in the middle of the night, tossing restlessly, probably won’t be able to avoid getting up to check on the continuing existence of your Covid-19 toilet paper. Have fun.
    Thanks for posting this. I love it.

    Liked by 1 person

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