Scientists are hoping the experiment will teach them more about how the universe developed after the Big Bang.Physicists with ALPHA Collaboration research group are trying to figure out how antimatter interacts with gravity, and if it produces “antigravity,” says the group’s founder, Jeffrey Hangst.
Their experiment mirrors the way Sir Isaac Newton came up with the law of gravity in the late 17th century.
Legend has it that an apple fell off a tree and hit the English nobleman on the head.
Newton got to thinking how gravity made the apple speed up as it fell.
He postulated that matter attracts matter via gravitational force, which is why an object like an apple would fall toward a larger object: the earth.
So, if matter attracts matter, what happens when antimatter interacts with it?
Will it produce antigravity? And would then a ball of antimatter fall up?
Gravity with a twist
“That would be a revolution,” Hangst says. “That would mean we don’t understand something fundamental about the universe.”
And a big piece of the puzzle is indeed missing, he admits.
Though people live with the effects of gravity every day and Newton’s law of gravity has been around for over 300 years, scientific understanding of gravity is lagging, he says.
“The way planets and stars move, we understand that well.” But how matter attracts matter on a molecular level is still greatly a mystery, Hangst says. The ALPHA Collaboration hopes to raise the level of understanding…
Here in 2019, the answer still seems unresolved, at least according to this Wikipedia entry:
The gravitational interaction of antimatter with matter or antimatter has not been conclusively observed by physicists. While the consensus among physicists is that gravity will attract both matter and antimatter at the same rate that matter attracts matter, there is a strong desire to confirm this experimentally.