• Antimatter Seen Falling Down For First Time Like Einstein Predicted


    For the first time, scientists have observed antimatter particles -- the mysterious twins of the visible matter all around us -- falling downwards due to the effect of gravity, Europe's physics lab CERN announced on Wednesday.

    The experiment was hailed as a "huge milestone", though most physicists anticipated the result, and it had been predicted by Einstein's 1915 theory of relativity.

    It definitively rules out that gravity repels antimatter upwards -- a finding that would have upended our fundamental understanding of the universe.

    Around 13.8 billion years ago, the Big Bang is believed to have produced an equal amount of matter -- what everything you can see is made out of -- and antimatter, its equal yet opposite counterpart.

    However, there is virtually no antimatter in the universe, which prompted one of the greatest mysteries of physics: what happened to all the antimatter?

    "Half the universe is missing," said Jeffrey Hangst, a member of CERN's ALPHA collaboration in Geneva which conducted the new experiment. 

    "In principle, we could build a universe -- everything that we know about -- with only antimatter, and it would work in exactly the same way," he told AFP.

    Physicists believe that matter and antimatter did meet and almost entirely destroyed each other after the Big Bang. 

    Yet matter now makes up nearly five percent of the universe -- the rest is even less understood dark matter and dark energy -- while antimatter vanished.

    Newton's apple flying up?

    One of the key outstanding questions about antimatter was whether gravity caused it to fall in the same way as normal matter. 

    While most physicists believed that it did, a few had speculated otherwise.

    A falling apple famously inspired Isaac Newton's work on gravity -- but if that apple was made of antimatter, would it have shot up into the sky?

    And if gravity did in fact repel antimatter, it could have meant that impossibilities such as a perpetual motion machine were possible.

    "So why not drop some and see what happens?" Hangst said.

    He compared the experiment to Galileo's famous -- though likely apocryphal -- 16th-century demonstration that two balls of different mass dropped from the Leaning Tower of Pisa would fall at the same rate.

    But this experiment -- the result of 30 years of work on antimatter at CERN -- was "a little bit more involved" than Galileo's, Hangst said.

    One problem was that antimatter barely exists outside of rare, short-lived particles in outer space. 

    However, in 1996, CERN scientists produced the first atoms of antimatter -- antihydrogen.

    Another challenge was that, because matter and antimatter have an opposite electrical charge, the moment they meet they destroy each other in a violent flash of energy scientists call annihilation.

    A magnetic trap

    To study gravity's effect on antimatter, the ALPHA team constructed a 25-centimetre-long (10-inch) bottle placed on its end, with magnets at the top and bottom. 

    Late last year, scientists placed around 100 very cold antihydrogen atoms into this "magnetic trap" called ALPHA-g.

    As they turned down the strength of both magnets, the antihydrogen particles -- which were bouncing around at 100 meters a second -- were able to escape out either end of the bottle.

    The scientists then simply counted how much antimatter was annihilated at each end of the bottle. 

    Around 80 percent of the antihydrogen went out of the bottom, which is a similar rate to how regular bouncing hydrogen atoms would behave if they were in the bottle. 

    This result, published in the journal Nature, shows that gravity causes antimatter to fall downwards, as predicted by Einstein's 1915 theory of relativity.

    In more than a dozen experiments, the CERN scientists varied the strength of the magnets, observing gravity's effect on antimatter at different rates.

    While the experiment rules out that gravity makes antihydrogen go upwards, Hangst emphasised it did not prove that antimatter behaves in exactly the same way as normal matter.

    "That's our next task," he said.

    Marco Gersabeck, a physicist who works at CERN but was not involved in the ALPHA research, said it was "a huge milestone".

    But it marks "only the start of an era" of more precise measurements of gravity's effect on antimatter, he told AFP.

    Other attempts to better understand antimatter include using CERN's Large Hadron Collider to investigate strange particles called beauty quarks.

    And there is an experiment onboard the International Space Station trying to catch antimatter in cosmic rays.

    But for now, exactly why the universe is awash with matter but devoid of antimatter "remains a mystery," said physicist Harry Cliff.

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  • Local train climbs onto platform at Mathura station; high-level inquiry ordered. CCTV footage from the driving cab.

    Train climbs onto platform at Mathura junction railway station; woman injured; high-level inquiry ordered.

    A local electric multiple unit (EMU) train climbed onto a platform at the Mathura junction railway station on Tuesday night and restoration work is currently underway. The railways has ordered a high-level inquiry into the matter, said an official on Wednesday, reported PTI.

    According to the official from Agra division, a woman sustained minor injuries in the incident.

    What exactly happened?


    At 10.50pm on Tuesday, the train arrived on platform 2A from Shakurbasti. After all the passengers, including the crew, had deboarded, the train rolled down the track and climbed onto the platform before coming to a stop, the official added.

    "A woman received an electric shock, and no one else was injured in the incident," Prashashti Srivastava, divisional commercial manager and public relations officer for the Agra division of the North Central Railways said.

    39-year-old Usha Devi, hailing from Jhansi, was taken to a hospital and administered first aid. Later, she was sent to Jhansi.

    A high-level inquiry would be conducted into the unusual incident, Himanshu Shekhar Upadhyay, Chief Public Relations Officer of North Central Railways, said.

    The movement of the trains on all platforms except 2A is normal, officials said. Earlier, train traffic was affected after an overhead equipment (OHE) snapped, they said.


    (With PTI inputs)

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  • Massive explosion heard near airport in #Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan

    According to witnesses cited by the news website Nova24, the explosion took place at a customs warehouse near the airport, with videos circulating on social media showing a column of flames and smoke rising into the night sky.

    A powerful explosion occurred near the airport of the Uzbek capital Tashkent overnight from Wednesday to Thursday, local media reported, with authorities saying a fire had resulted in injuries.

    According to witnesses cited by the news website Nova24, the explosion took place at a customs warehouse near the airport, with videos circulating on social media showing a column of flames and smoke rising into the night sky.

    The health ministry said that a “fire” had been reported during the night at the warehouse, and that an unspecified number of injured people had been taken to hospital.

    “At the moment, there are not any seriously injured among them. Right now, doctors are furnishing all necessary medical assistance,” the ministry said on Telegram.

    “Emergency medical care is also being provided to people injured in the fire at the scene of the accident and in the surrounding apartments.”

    Uzbekistan is the most populous of the central Asian former Soviet republics, and fires attributed to dilapidated equipment and poor adherence to safety standards are common there.

    Accidents of this magnitude, however, are still rare.

    Impact of the powerful explosion in Tashkent, Uzbekistan

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  • ₹ 2,000 Notes To Be Scrapped, Exchange Them By This Date, Will Remain Legal Tender

    The central bank has said it will withdraw ₹ 2,000 notes from circulation and people can exchange or deposit them in their bank accounts by September 30. The Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) 19 regional offices and other banks will start taking ₹ 2,000 notes for exchange with lower denomination one from May 23. They will remain legal tender, the RBI said. 


    The RBI has told all banks to stop issuing ₹ 2,000 notes immediately.


    The RBI started printing the ₹ 2,000 note in November 2016 after Prime Minister Narendra Modi scrapped high-value ₹ 1,000 and ₹ 500 notes overnight.




    "The objective of introducing ₹ 2,000 banknotes was met once banknotes in other denominations became available in adequate quantities. Therefore, printing of ₹ 2000 banknotes was stopped in 2018- 19," the RBI said in a statement.


    "In order to ensure operational convenience and to avoid disruption of regular activities of bank branches, exchange of ₹ 2,000 banknotes into banknotes of other denominations can be made up to a limit of ₹ 20,000 at a time at any bank starting from May 23, 2023," the RBI said.


    The central bank said people can deposit or exchange for lower denomination notes till September 30.


    The central bank said this note is not commonly used for transactions. The RBI had undertaken a similar withdrawal of notes from circulation in 2013-2014.

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