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Big Questions

Origin and Destiny of the Universe

Scientists believe that, when the Big Bang first occurred, equal amounts of matter and antimatter formed. Antimatter may sound like an exotic material from Star Trek, but it is actually a very normal thing. For instance, an antiproton behaves exactly like a normal proton but it has a negative charge instead of a positive one. However, if an antiproton and a normal proton collide they annihilate each other and give off a big burst of energy. Because of this fact, scientists are faced with a problem: if equal amounts of matter and antimatter formed at the beginning of the universe, shouldn't they have collided and destroyed each other? It seems like it, but all around us we see plenty of normal matter and hardly any anti matter. Why? That's precisely what physicists are trying to figure out.


A service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA/GSFC

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