Antimatter – another field of accelerated progress

Categories: Energy, Space
Published on: June 8, 2011

A brief timeline of the discovery breakthrough:

  • 1880s: the possibility of matter with negative gravity was discussed by William Hicks.
  • 1880s – 1890s: Karl Pearson proposed the existence of negative matter in  the flow of aether.
  • 1898: The term antimatter was first used by Arthur Schuster. He hypothesized antiatoms, whole antimatter solar systems and discussed the possibility of matter and antimatter annihilating each other. The ideas were merely speculation, and like the previous ideas, differed from the modern concept of antimatter in that it possessed negative gravity.
  • 1928: The modern theory of antimatter begins with a paper by Paul Dirac. He  predicted the possibility of antielectrons (later called positrons).
  • 1929: A complete periodic table of antimatter was envisaged by Charles Janet.
  • 1932: Positrons were discovered by Carl D. Anderson.
  • 1955: The antiproton was experimentally confirmed in  by Emilio Segrè and Owen Chamberlain. The properties of the antiproton that have been measured all match the corresponding properties of the proton, with the exception that the antiproton has opposite electric charge and magnetic moment from the proton.
  • 1956: The antineutron was discovered in proton–proton collisions by Bruce Cork and colleagues.
  • 1959: Segrè and Chamberlain were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics.
  • 1965: А group of researchers led by Antonino Zichichi reported production of nuclei of antideuterium at the Proton Synchrotron at CERN.
  • 1965: Оbservations of antideuterium nuclei were reported by a group of American physicists at the Alternating Gradient Synchrotron.
  • 1970s: Antihelium-3 nuclei were first observed in proton-nucleus collision experiments and later created in nucleus-nucleus collision experiments. Nucleus-nucleus collisions produce antinuclei through the coalescense of antiprotons and antineutrons created in these reactions.
  • 1995: CERN announced that it had successfully brought into existence nine antihydrogen atoms by implementing the experiment using the Low Energy Antiproton Ring (LEAR), and was led by Walter Oelert and Mario Macri. Fermilab soon confirmed the CERN findings by producing approximately 100 antihydrogen atoms at their facilities. (Read CERN press release…)
  • Late 1990s: The antihydrogen atoms created at both CERN and Fermilab were extremely energetic and were not well suited to study. To resolve this hurdle, and to gain a better understanding of antihydrogen, two collaborations were formed in the  — ATHENA and ATRAP.
  • 10 March 1997: CERN finds external funding for new Antimatter Project (Read CERN press release…)
  • 1999: CERN activated the Antiproton Decelerator, a device capable of decelerating antiprotons — still too “hot” to produce study-effective antihydrogen, but a huge leap forward.
  • 10 August 2000: Start-up of CERN’s New Antimatter Factory (Read CERN press release…)
  • 11 November 2000: A Webcast on antimatter live from CERN (Read CERN press release…)
  • Late 2002: The ATHENA project announced that they had created the world’s first “cold” antihydrogen. The ATRAP project released similar results very shortly thereafter.  Approximately 25 million antiprotons leave the Antiproton Decelerator and roughly 25,000 make it to the Penning-Malmberg trap.
  • 2003: CERN started ACE (Antiproton Cell Experiment) – the first investigation of the biological effects of antiprotons.
  • 2005: ATHENA disbanded and some of the former members (along with others) formed the ALPHA Collaboration, which is also situated at CERN.
  • 31 October 2006: A pioneering experiment of ACE at CERN with potential future application in cancer therapy has produced its first results: Antiprotons Four Times More Effective than Protons for Cell Irradiation. (Read CERN press release…).
  • November 2008: Positrons have been generated by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in larger numbers than by any previous synthetic process.
  • 17 November 2010: the ALPHA collaboration announced that they had so trapped 38 antihydrogen atoms for about a sixth of a second. This was the first time that neutral antimatter had been trapped. (Read CERN press release…).
  • 6 December 2010. The ASACUSA experiment at CERN has taken an important step forward in developing an innovative technique for studying antimatter. Using a novel particle trap, called a CUSP trap, the experiment has succeeded in producing significant numbers of antihydrogen atoms in flight. (Read CERN press release…).
  • 2011: The STAR detector reported the observation of Antihelium-4 nuclei.
  • 06 May 2011: ALPHA announced that they had trapped 309 antihydrogen atoms, some for as long as 1,000 seconds (about 17 minutes). This was longer than neutral antimatter had ever been trapped before. Recent data released by CERN states that, when fully operational, their facilities are capable of producing 107 antiprotons per minute.(Read CERN press release…).


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