Still No Explanation for Matter/Antimatter Imbalance
An astrophysicist explains that the predominance of matter in our universe is just weird, and has no explanation.
The big bang should have produced equal parts matter and antimatter, but it didn’t. If it had, our universe might not be possible, because the oppositely-charged particles would have annihilated each other in a blaze of energy. Antimatter is so rare, that if it survived, annihilation events would be visible throughout the universe, but we don’t see them. This failed prediction of the big bang theory has been known for decades. What is the latest thinking about it?
Before getting into the meat of the issue, we can dismiss a new claim from CERN put forth in Nature that “Physicists see new difference between matter and antimatter.” The alleged difference in some D meson particles “is too small to completely explain the dominance of matter,” they admit, “but it presents a new avenue to unravelling the problem,” according to a particle physicist. There’s nothing solid to lean on. They only found a new storytelling platform.
In the short term, the finding will also help theorists to better understand the mechanism behind this behaviour in D mesons and similar particles — it is the only laboratory example of nature ‘choosing’ matter over antimatter that physicists have been able to confirm.
The announcement on March 21 was apparently a reason to clap and drown their sorrows in drink (they broke out the champagne, the article continues). But “The effect in D mesons is so small that it is technically extremely difficult to measure.” It opens the possibility that somebody made a calculating mistake in their heavily theory-laden methodology.
Expert Voice: “We Don’t Know”
In Space.com‘s “Expert Voices” series, astrophysicist Paul Sutter admits that the “antimatter problem” in astrophysics remains unsolved:
The origins of the asymmetry between matter and antimatter is an outstanding problem in physics. A problem that pushes the boundaries of current knowledge and pushes our understanding of the universe into some of its earliest moments. A problem that, you could say, really matters.
Now that we have seen his conclusion, let’s look at his list of weird ideas that big-bang cosmologists have considered in their attempts to figure it out:
1. Sutter doesn’t like the response that our universe was just born this way. “‘That’s just the way it is, folks’ isn’t the most compelling argument in scientific circles,” he quips.
2. Maybe “something happened,” he says, appealing to the Stuff Happens Law. “A strange process that produced more matter than antimatter.” That seems hardly better than #1. “It would indeed have to be a very peculiar set of conditions to cause such an imbalance,” he confesses.
3. Maybe a perfectly-balanced event broke the rules of physics. This begins sounding like intelligent design.
Whatever interaction, whatever process, led to matter’s ultimate victory had to be strange indeed. It had to start with producing not just an excess quantity of regular matter, but also an excess quantity of charge to counterbalance it. Otherwise, because total charges must stay the same throughout a process, that matter-loving route would’ve been perfectly balanced by a twin antimatter-loving road.
4. Maybe the antimatter went away. Sutter offers some “hints and suggestions” about the weak force permit speculating, but it’s not enough.
We understand these interactions only dimly, especially the way they would occur in the early universe, but even there our best guess for its matter-favoring ability put it far, far below the minimum needed to explain our present situation.
In a 7.5-minute video in the article, Paul Sutter humorously yet seriously explains these problems, but ends with an admission of ignorance. He shrugs and says, “This is an unsolved problem in physics.” Unsolved for secularists, that is; and it has been for decades.
Theistic answers do not reduce to “That’s just the way it is,” because God had a purpose that we can infer from the evidence. If you see a stack of rocks defying all known laws of physics, you can infer that someone did it, even if you didn’t watch the process. You could guess that the person did it to mark a trail, or to make a piece of art. The finer the details, the more purpose you can infer. Something as finely tuned as our universe shouts design.
If you prefer, you can believe “something weird happened” and chalk it up to the Stuff Happens Law. Or, you can believe God designed our universe so that it would be habitable. The latter has the advantage of Eyewitness testimony. God told Isaiah that He didn’t make the world in vain; He made it to be inhabited (Isaiah 45:18). The plan in the mind of God came first; the organization of matter was fit to accomplish that purpose. Intelligence and mind has the causative power to organize matter to fill requirements for an intended result. If you prefer sitting in ignorance with the big bang cosmologists, be our guest. Just don’t call it science.
Exercise: Answer an atheist who says, “Sure, we don’t know the answer, but isn’t it better to admit we don’t know and keep looking rather than give up and say, ‘God did it’?”.