A new IPRO on Antimatter Gravity, the most recent addition to the Fall 2014 IPRO roster, seeks to advance the ability to study whether antimatter falls up or down — a key question fundamental to the nature of gravity and the Universe.
Antimatter is familiar to many as the fuel for the Starship Enterprise and the weapon of mass destruction in Angels and Demons. But antimatter is real, although rare: every atom of antimatter on earth has to be carefully and delicately assembled at a particle accelerator laboratory.
Most scientists expect that antimatter will fall down just like ordinary matter. But this hypothesis has never been directly tested by experiment. If antimatter falls up, or even if it falls down but at a different rate than matter, the accepted theories of gravity and of the evolution of the Universe will need to be drastically revised.
The students in IPRO 497-305 will have the opportunity to design and hopefully build apparatus for an experiment to study the gravitational acceleration of antimatter. The IPRO is offered by Physics Professor Dan Kaplan, with assistance from Adjunct Professor Derrick Mancini of Argonne National Laboratory.