New Pear-Shaped Nucleus Could Mean the End of Time Travel

Friday, 01 July 2016 - 11:00AM
Physics
Friday, 01 July 2016 - 11:00AM
New Pear-Shaped Nucleus Could Mean the End of Time Travel
By all accounts, time travel should be realistically possible. The laws of physics seem to favor symmetry in spacetime, and if spacetime is symmetrical, then we should be able to move within it in either direction. The "future" shouldn't necessarily lie ahead of us, but time should extend in all directions.

Symmetry seems to be pervasive in our universe, right down to the shape of atomic nuclei. And if it holds for spacetime, then it dictates that the Big Bang created equal amounts of matter and antimatter during the birth of the universe, and that the nuclei of atoms can be one of just three shapes: spherical, discus, or rugby ball. 

But Dr. Marcus Scheck and Professor Peter Butler have just discovered a fourth form--and it's pear-shaped. This anomaly points to why our universe today actually contains so much more matter than antimatter, despite what the laws of physics expect to be there. "This violates the theory of mirror symmetry and relates to the violation shown in the distribution of matter and antimatter in our universe," one of the discoverers of the nucleus, Marcus Scheck of the University of the West of Scotland, told The BBC.

Scheck and his colleague, Peter Butler of the University of Liverpool, first discovered the pear shape in the nucleus of the isotope Radium- 224. The finding has since been confirmed in a second study, this time in the nucleus of Barium-144.

And that's not all this nucleus points to, Scheck explains: "We've found these nuclei literally point towards a direction in space. This relates to a direction in time, proving there's a well-defined direction in time and we will always travel from past to present." So there goes any hope of travelling backwards in time. At least we can still potentially go forward, but that wouldn't help us if things go south in the next presidential election.

Image credit: The BBC

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