By Dennis Overbye
Scientists on Wednesday announced that they were perhaps one step closer to understanding why the universe contains something rather than nothing.
Part of the blame, or the glory, they say, may belong to the flimsiest, quirkiest and most elusive elements of nature: neutrinos. These ghostly subatomic particles stream from the Big Bang, the sun, exploding stars and other cosmic catastrophes, flooding the universe and slipping through walls and our bodies by the billions every second, like moonlight through a screen door.
Neutrinos are nature’s escape artists. Did they help us slip out of the Big Bang? Perhaps. Recent experiments in Japan have discovered a telltale anomaly in the behavior of neutrinos, and the results suggest that, amid the throes of creation and annihilation in the first moments of the universe, these particles could have tipped the balance between matter and its evil-twin opposite, antimatter.
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