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Matter from nothing!

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Can we really create matter from nothing? After all we know that the law of conservation of matter and energy rules out this possibility. It clearly states that you cannot create something out of nothing; that to make matter you have to expend energy and to make energy matter needs to be expended.

Julian Schwinger, one of the founders of quantum field theory, way back in early 1950’s had proposed a theory that electron-positron pairs could be pulled out of vacuum by merely the application of an electric or magnetic or gravitational field. This means that, if this theory is true, we should be able to create matter-antimatter pairs from nothing at all.

For decades, quantum scientists have been working on this theory to do experiments that could verify and validate this theory, but it had proved difficult to show this phenomenon practically.

Recently, in January 2022, researchers at the University of Manchester were able to leverage an intricate and clever setup involving graphene — an incredibly strong material that consists of carbon atoms bound together in geometrically optimal states — to achieve this property with relatively small, experimentally accessible magnetic field. In doing so, they also witness the Schwinger effect in action: producing the analogue of electron-positron pairs in this quantum system. This is a major breakthrough and helps us understand how the Big Bang could have come about and created the Universe out of nothing!

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