Big Bang Antimatter Problem Deepens
The most precise measurements ever show that particles and their antiparticles are perfect mirror images of each other.
Protons and anti-protons are alike in every way; just don’t bring them together or they will annihilate each other. They differ only by the sign of their charges. Why this is a problem for big bang theory—and for the “standard model” of particle physics—is explained in Nature:
The standard model of particle physics is considered to be the best physical theory that we have. It is built on symmetries and can describe all the experiments and observations concerning the known subatomic particles. However, the model includes some 30 free parameters and is not fully explanatory. For example, it cannot explain a profound mystery of physics and cosmology, the fact that there is no antimatter in the Universe. When matter and antimatter mutually annihilated each other following the Big Bang, any pre-existing symmetry between them was broken. Matter but no antimatter was left behind, and we lack a satisfactory explanation as to how this occurred. Research on the fundamental differences between particles and antiparticles may provide an answer. In this vein, Ulmer et al. (page 196) perform a high-precision, comparative study of the properties of protons and antiprotons.
Their study wasn’t helpful. Ulmer et al. measured the charge-to-mass ratio of protons and antiprotons, and found them identical (except for charge) to 69 parts per trillion—four times the precision of previous measurements. It was hoped the very minute differences between them might produce a slight asymmetry that could account for the discrepancy. A slight excess of matter at the big bang, after all the new matter and antimatter annihilated itself, would remain to create the universe of matter we know. If there are any differences, they have escaped detection.
The “mystery deepens,” therefore, Live Science says. “Matter and antimatter appear to be perfect mirror images of each other as far as anyone can see, scientists have discovered with unprecedented precision, foiling hope of solving the mystery as to why there is far more matter than antimatter in the universe.” Science Daily quotes the frustration of Ulmer at the result of finding no variance in the charge-parity-time (CPT) symmetry of the particles :
“This is an important issue,” says Stefan Ulmer, who led the research, “because it helps us to understand why we live in a universe that has practically no antimatter, despite the fact that the Big Bang must have led to the creation of both. If we had found violations of CPT, it would mean that matter and antimatter might have different properties — for example that antiprotons might decay faster than protons — but we have found within quite strict limits that the charge-to-mass ratios are the same.“
Thus “one of the most intriguing questions in physics” remains unexplained, Klaus Jungmann says in the review article. Surely a nearly equivalent amount of antimatter must have existed at the big bang, in the view of big bang cosmologists. Since the universe of matter we see today constitutes only 4% of mass-energy when theoretical dark matter and dark energy are considered, it implies that modern physicists and cosmologists only have a handle on 2% of reality.
Is this evidence for intelligent design? Look at what Jungmann says:
Symmetries have a central role in physics. A symmetry that holds across the Universe is an indication that a conservation law is at work. For example, adjusting a clock by an arbitrary time interval leaves all physical processes completely unaffected. A consequence of this is that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. But, when a symmetry is violated or a quantity is not conserved, a symmetry-breaking process must be at work.
There does not appear to be any physical process that can account for the matter-antimatter asymmetry in the universe. A designer of a habitable universe, however, would know that a mix of matter and antimatter would make the universe uninhabitable (e.g., don’t shake hands with your anti-self), unless the antimatter were somehow segregated from the matter. Observing that kind of segregation, though, would violate the Cosmological Principle and amount to further evidence for design.
This materialist conundrum has been around for decades, and shows no sign of resolution. It’s similar to the chirality asymmetry in biomolecules that has no material explanation. There is cause (a “symmetry-breaking process”) that can account for these asymmetries, though, and that cause is intelligence. Why not infer that the thing that “must be at work” is not just a process, but a Person?
Some will cry “God of the gaps” at this suggestion. It is true that future work may uncover physical mechanisms for these phenomena. But how long do we have to wait? These mysteries have gone on for nearly a century now. Eventually, the alchemists had to change their paradigm, didn’t they? And what if the gaps keep getting wider over time? These articles do not give us confidence that physicists and cosmologists are converging on natural explanations, if the “best physical theory we have” cannot account for this long-standing mystery, is clueless about dark matter and dark energy, and needs 30 free parameters to work at all (see Best-in-Field Fallacy).
At some point, we must logically conclude that “materialism of the gaps” is just as vulnerable to criticism as its converse. There is a positive argument for design that is not a gap argument. It says that from our uniform experience, we know of a cause that can separate out particles that in all respects are equivalent, especially when the result of the separation provides a function, such as habitability. That cause is intelligence. It’s interesting that we see that in Genesis 1:3, when God, by design, “divided the light from the darkness.” It sounds surprisingly prescient. Moses could not have known the significance of this statement. It suggests that it was revealed to him by the omniscient, omnipotent Creator.
To appreciate the sheer emptiness of naturalistic theories about antimatter, watch this short video from Fermilab on YouTube. So much for the experts. The God hypothesis excels over their understanding like Something exceeds Nothing.