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links for 2010-11-18

  • Researchers at Cern, home of the Large Hadron Collider, have held 38 antihydrogen atoms in place, each for a fraction of a second.

    Antihydrogen has been produced before but it was instantly destroyed when it encountered normal matter.

    The team, reporting in Nature, says the ability to study such antimatter atoms will allow previously impossible tests of fundamental tenets of physics.

    The current "standard model" of physics holds that each particle – protons, electrons, neutrons and a zoo of more exotic particles – has its mirror image antiparticle.

    The antiparticle of the electron, for example, is the positron, and is used in an imaging technique of growing popularity known as positron emission tomography.

    However, one of the great mysteries in physics is why our world is made up overwhelmingly of matter, rather than antimatter; the laws of physics make no distinction between the two and equal amounts should have been created at the Universe's birth.

  • Caffeine has become an ubiquitous drug. Used originally in most cultures for ceremony or some daily stimulation, it has become a regular, overused energy stimulant in the Western world, with the United States leading in coffee and caffeine use.
    Coffee, brewed from the ground-up coffee bean (Coffea arabica), is the major vehicle for caffeine consumption. In this country, more than a half billion cups are drunk daily, with most consumers drinking two or more cups, and more than ten pounds of coffee per person are consumed yearly. This food/drug mixture, often along with sugar and/or milk, is one of the most freely marketed substances in the world.
    (tags: caffeine)
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