Scientists recreate early universe by converting light into matter

Scientists recreate early universe by converting light into matter

Physicists at London's Imperial College publish a paper proving that with existing technology, light can be formed into matter through photon colliding.

Scientists have discovered how to apply what has been called an impossible theory, proposed by Breit and Wheeler in 1934, into a stunning reality: the ability to turn light into matter.

At Blackett Physics Laboratory in London’s Imperial College, three physicists have worked out a fairly simple way to actually prove this theory proposed by Breit and Wheeler.

Breit and Wheeler described the process in which they thought light could be turned into matter the journal Physical Review, involving bombarding together two particles of light (known as photons), to produce an electron and a positron (the counter part to the electron). Even though minute, these particles do have physical mass.

Though the calculations have been found to hold up under scrutiny, Breit and Wheeler never expected any scientists in their time to physically prove their theory. Much of the reason this has not been tested yet is because it also required additional massive high-energy particles, and so it has never been observed in the laboratory. But not anymore.

The research published by the physicists in the London College in the journal Nature Photonics, demonstrates on paper how the theory could be proven with a “photon-photon collider.” The collider would be using technology that is already available.

There are two critical steps involved in the collider experiment. The physicists would use a high-intensity laser that is incredibly powerful to increase the speed of electrons just short of the speed of light. Then, they would bombard these electrons into a slab of gold, increasing the energy of the beam of photons more powerful than a billion times that of visible light.

The second step of the experiment requires a tiny gold can called a hohlraum (German for ‘hollow area’) where the physicists would fire a high-energy laser into the inner surface of this can to create a thermal radiation field, creating light like that of light radiated from stars.

With this field of energy in the hohlraum, the scientists would then direct the photon beam from the first step of the experiment through the center of the can, causing the photons from the two sources to collide with each other and to generate electrons and positrons. At that point, it should be possible to identify the generation of electrons and positrons when they are emitted from the can.

The experiment is very similar to what is believed to occur in the first 100 seconds of the universe’s formation or what happens in gamma ray bursts, which are the most intense bursts of electromagnetic radiation known, occurring in the universe, happening when massive stars collapse on themselves.

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