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Annihilation Theory

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The Mystery of Matter and Antimatter

Written by Mandy Barbour

Year 11 Physics

The current unbalanced state of the universe contradicts what our laws of physics have suggested. At the dawn of the universe an imbalance between the originally equal amounts of matter and antimatter occurred, and in 1967 Russian physicist Andrei Sakharov created three conditions that would allow this imbalance to happen. These conditions have been a topic of much debate between physicists and have not been proven to be totally factual to this day. Despite this, they have acted as important guidelines for others involved in this field, proving their relevance. Progress towards understanding the initial state of the universe is increasing and technology is evolving to aid our education. The root to all scientific cosmology is the Big Bang Theory.

It is believed that the "big bang" left equal amounts of matter and antimatter. Matter and antimatter is a collective term given to two identical particles that are of opposite charge. Therefore they are the same with the exception of charge.

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The first of his conditions is a bold proposal. It has not been proven in any physical experiments, but Sakharov proposed that conservation laws do not forbid reactions that change the balance between particles and antiparticles. Conservation laws state that the portion of the universe chosen for analysis does not change as the universe evolves, and these laws have not been known to have exceptions.

To counter this Sakharov's second condition points out that the laws of physics must be slightly different for matter and antimatter. Unlike his first proposal, the second has some solid evidence behind it. In 1964 four physicists Christenson, Cronin, Fitch and Turlay discovered at Brookhaven that long-lived Kaon's can decay into two pions. This means that the weak force (its most familiar effect being in beta decay) does not act equally on quarks and antiquarks (quarks and antiquarks being an example of matter and antimatter).  This second condition supports the first and could possibly be the only evidence for it.

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Sakharov's conditions are only three of the infinite possibilities to explain the antimatter mystery. What makes them special is that although those conditions were formed over forty years ago they are still relevant and are applied to modern physics. Nevertheless where there is information there will always be debate and differing interpretations of fact. The only certain way to solving the mysteries of the universe is by using innovation and inquiry, complimented by unbiased interpretation of fact.

Word Count: 1 105

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Here's what a star student thought of this essay

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Response to the question

The candidate’s introduction starts well, it is interesting and they have attempted to engage the reader by stating that the imbalance between matter and antimatter is unusual and goes against predictions made using the laws of physics. By using your ...

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Response to the question

The candidate’s introduction starts well, it is interesting and they have attempted to engage the reader by stating that the imbalance between matter and antimatter is unusual and goes against predictions made using the laws of physics. By using your introduction to catch the attention of the reader, you make them interested in what you have to say, making it more likely that they will read all of your essay rather than just skim through it. However an introduction should state what you plan to discuss so that premise of your essay is clear and the candidate fails to do this.

Level of analysis

I feel that the candidate's response to the set topic and their analysis is a little weak, the topic is annihilation theory, so a good start would be to discuss this, what it means and how the theory was discovered. Furthermore the candidate’s entire essay seems to focus on the ideas of Andrei Sakharov and his theories for creating antimatter. A good quality essay should cover several key points and theories relating to your set topic, you can also show a good understanding of physics by bringing together several different topics, this demonstrates a good subject knowledge and a general enthusiasm for physics. Though the information relating to this particular scientist’s ideas, is a nice addition and is interesting to read, it would of been more suitable to discuss this briefly and move on to another idea. That said, I would also recommend writing a short bibliography if you undergo any independent research, you should state any sources you use and if you use information from an online source you should also provide a link to that webpage.

Quality of writing

The candidate uses technical terms accurately through the essay and their work is fairly coherent which demonstrates an understanding of the concepts they have discussed. In addition to this there are no real issues with either spelling or grammar.

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Reviewed by pictureperfect 08/07/2012

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