Forbes: Have Scientists Cracked One Of The Biggest Mysteries Of Modern Physics?

The answer to that question is an interesting one, which depends on how one understands the statistical analysis of complex experiments. The experimental result could be the early signs of something big, but it is also important to be appropriately cautious. So, what really happened? It starts with an announcement by a consortium of scientists of the outcome of a study of subatomic particles called neutrinos that could be huge – perhaps huge enough to answer the quasi-philosophical question “Why is there something, instead of nothing?” However, to understand the study’s significance and potential impact requires a little back story.

Einstein’s most famous equation is E = mc2, which is usually interpreted as saying that energy can be converted into matter and vice versa. The reality is somewhat more subtle, as it actually says that energy can be converted into matter and antimatter in equal quantities. 

Antimatter is an antagonistic cousin of matter which, when combined with an equal amount of matter, can release an enormous amount of energy. Antimatter played a prominent role in Dan Brown’s book Angels and Demons, in which a quarter gram of antimatter threatened the Vatican. Antimatter was proposed in 1929 and discovered in 1931.

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