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Anti-hydrogen locked in a magnetic field

  1. Jan 10, 2013 #1
    I heard we have some anti-hydrogen locked in a magnetic field somewhere. Wow, an entire atom of anti-matter, bizarre. Does anyone know if there are any properties unique to anti-atoms that differ from regular atoms? That is, as far as the distribution on energy levels, orbital structure, wavefunctions, etc.?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 11, 2013 #2
    Re: Anti-hydrogen

    Most of the properties of anti-atoms are identical to the properties in the corresponding atoms. Electromagnetism is what determines the three properties you listed, and it's invariant under "charge symmetry". Imagine you have some system interacting electromagnetically and you can measure everything about it except the charges of the particles. Now suppose there's a second system identical to the first except every particle has been swapped with its antiparticle. Charge symmetry means there's no way you can tell which system is which without knowing the charges of each particle—i.e. without being explicitly told which system is the regular matter and which is the anti-matter. In every respect, the systems will behave exactly the same. This is also true for the strong force, which holds nuclei and the particles inside them together, and gravity, which isn't really important for atomic properties.

    The only fundamental force that is not charge symmetric is the weak force, which governs radioactive decay. So, you could tell by watching for certain tell-tale signs during some decays whether you're looking at an atom or an anti-atom. But, this has no effect on any of the properties you suggested—the ones that matter for interactions with other atoms.
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