Category Archives: Particle Physics

Q: Where is all the anti-matter?

Physicist: Anti-matter is exactly the same as ordinary matter but opposite, in very much the same way that a left hand is exactly the same as a right hand… but opposite.  Every anti-particle has exactly the same mass as their … Continue reading

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Q: How can carbon dating work on things that were never alive?

Physicist: It doesn’t. Carbon dating is the most famous form of “radiometric dating”.  By measuring the trace amounts of radioactive carbon-14 (so named because it has 6 protons and 8 neutrons) in a dead something and comparing it to the … Continue reading

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Q: Why haven’t we been able to see the spectra of anti-hydrogen until recently? Why is it so hard to study anti-matter?

Physicist: Although anti-matter was first experimentally confirmed in 1932, no one has been able to see the atomic spectrum of any anti-elements until December 2016. The problem with anti-matter is that you can’t let it touch anything.  If you do: … Continue reading

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Q: Does anti-matter really move backward through time?

Physicist: The very short answer is: yes, but not in time-traveler-kind-of-way. There is a “symmetry” in physics implied by our most fundamental understanding of physical law, and is never violated by any known process, that’s called the “CPT symmetry“.  It … Continue reading

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Q: How does Earth’s magnetic field protect us?

Physicist: High energy charged particles rain in on the Earth from all directions, most of them produced by the Sun.  If it weren’t for the Earth’s magnetic field we would be subject to bursts of radiation on the ground that … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Astronomy, Particle Physics, Physics | 8 Comments

Q: What is radioactivity and why is it sometimes dangerous?

Physicist: Here’s every particle you’ve ever interacted with: protons, neutrons, electrons, and photons*.  Dangerous radiation is nothing more mysterious than one of those particles moving crazy fast. The nucleus of some kinds of atoms are unstable and will, given enough … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Biology, Particle Physics, Physics | 5 Comments