Ask a Physicist: Where did matter come from?

My lastest “Ask a Physicist” column is up: Where did matter come from? It’s a sort of general overview of the issues in matter-antimatter asymmetry in the universe. I try not to get too technical so I don’t use phrases like “CP Symmetry” in the article, though I’m happy to address them here (or via email) if people have technical or not so technical followups. At any rate, enjoy!


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4 Responses to Ask a Physicist: Where did matter come from?

  1. Dear Dave, I am impressed with the theory of how matter originated. However, you indicated that experiments have been made whereby matter was created from anti-particles and positive particles (close analogy) which indicates this may be verifiable and not theorectical.

    It appears that scientists begin with the premise of a “Big Bang” where from a point in space an extreme amoint of energy, gases, and radiation was emitted to gradually form matter. My question is how did the Big Ball originate? Where did all that energy come from in the first place to initiate the “Big Bang?” That is, how or what made the ball in the first place?

    • dave says:

      Honestly, we don’t know. More to the point, I don’t know if we’ll ever know. The “big bang model” is predicated on an expanding universe with a certain energy content, and while we can trace the timeline back very far — we have some understanding as early as 10^-43 seconds after the “beginning” — we ultimately hit a brick wall. People have theories, but nothing testable or generally accepted yet, I’m afraid.

  2. JOHN says:

    Things seen are make from things not seen.
    The question is: What is the unseen?
    Theories abound about matter, but the truth has to do
    with LAWS. How did the laws of matter come into existance. Who is the law giver. Tell the truth and
    don’t break the law. Modern science knows that all living things are programmed with life giving software.
    That is how life functions. Who was the programmer?
    The brain is a “machine” that takes in information through the five senses, but processes that information
    with an unseen program called “the spirit-in-man”. Go figure.

  3. Paul C says:

    Dear Physicist Person,

    Ok, I know about how astronomers have determined the Universe is expanding but there seems still to be a question of why. I thought of a possible reason but surely a non-physicist as myself is not aware of all the possible reasons already rejected or factors already calculated in explaining the observations. Here is a thought that has me plagued. Please tell me what may be wrong or right about it.

    The gravitational force between bodies decreases with distance. That much I know. Maybe the separation of mass in the universe decreases the gravitational forces between bodies at a rate faster than the decrease of stored kinetic energy in those bodies? Could it then be that the combined result of force vectors is causing distance between those bodies to accelerate? Also, perhaps as objects move out into space with less matter, solar winds etc, that the resistance of space decreases with distance from the big bang. That may also cause a further acceleration of expansion from reduced drag. Could those two factors explain the observed expansion of the Universe? Another possible factor may be where we are between the source of the big bang and the leading edge of it.

    My talent in math and physics is not good enough to figure this out but I would guess yours is. I hope you get back to me and end my sleepless nights.

    Paul Canfield

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