Physicists Trap Antimatter for 16 Minutes; Cue Hoverboard Jokes

There's a link, we swear

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Man, they just never stop doing cool stuff at CERN! The latest bit of news from Europe's nuclear research organization is that a team at ALPHA, the Antihydrogen Laser Physics Apparatus, has trapped 309 atoms of antimatter--specifically, antihydrogen--for 1000 seconds, or just under 17 minutes.

It's not the first time scientists have captured some amount of antimatter, but it's far and away the longest they've ever managed to hold onto it. The previous record was 172 milliseconds. The 16-minute capture is neat in its own right, but it's also got people talking about the next step: antigravity applications.

Beg pardon? Yes--it's speculated that antimatter may fall up instead of down. Thus far, we haven't been able to test the theory, because we've never been able to isolate a quantity of antimatter and put it in conditions where gravity could affect it. But this might happen before the end of the year, according to Alasdair Wilkins at io9.

What are the odds that antimatter actually falls up? "It's disappointingly likely that antimatter will fall 'down' just like regular matter," writes Evan Ackerman at the tech blog DVICE. But writers at Inhabit, Popular Science, and MIT's Technology Review seem agnostic on the question. In any case, it's an excuse for DVICE, Inhabit, and Take Part to run their best hoverboard shots from Back to the Future Part II. And we're not made of stone here at The Atlantic Wire, so here's that chase scene:

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.