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Antimatter mystery transcends new data

8:56am, July 11, 2001

Physicists have finally answered a decades-old question about the difference between matter and antimatter. Yet their finding only deepens the mystery of why the universe contains so much more matter than antimatter.

Last week, researchers at the Stanford (Calif.) Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) announced they had proved that hefty subatomic particles, known as B mesons and anti-B mesons, decay into lighter particles in slightly different ways.

This disparity, called the charge-parity (CP) violation, first became apparent in 1964 among particles known as K mesons. After that discovery, some theorists proposed that this type of disparity may solve a cosmic mystery: How is it that the universe is almost solely made of matter even though it theoretically burst into being with equal shares of matter and antimatter?

A pathway to an answer opened in the 1970s when theorists predicted that B mesons also would exhibit CP violation. That prediction has since been incorpor

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