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Pear-shaped nuclei may be a key to why our universe survived the big bang

Rick Docksai | Science Recorder | May 09, 2013

Pear-shaped nuclei may be a key to why our universe survived the big bang

Scientists crack the code.

The difference between our universe existing and not existing hinges upon some astonishingly small things—among them, atomic nuclei that are shaped like pears. In an article published in Nature, University of Liverpool scientists who observed some atomic nuclei form atypical pear-like shapes wrote that the atomic forces that created these shapes might have been critical to the universe not self-destructing in a fiery conflagration of matter and antimatter right after its birth.

Physicists have been able to explain myriad atomic and subatomic interactions by way of a sweeping Standard Model of Particle Physics, which was developed by generations of contributing scientists. But the model has left a lingering question of why the universe has more matter than antimatter—i.e., why there is a universe at all. According to the model, every atom of matter should be accompanied by an atom of antimatter. And if that is so, then our universe should have obliterated itself almost as soon as it began, since antimatter and matter blow each other up whenever they meet. That the universe is still here implies that the quantity of matter was higher.

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