For the first time scientists observe the creation of matter from light

For the first time scientists observe the creation of matter from light

One of the most fascinating implications of Einstein’s famous equation E=mc2 is that matter and energy are interchangeable.

In other words, it should be possible to create matter from pure energy, such as light. This process, known as matter creation or pair production, was first proposed by physicists Gregory Breit and John Wheeler in 1934. However, it has remained elusive for decades, as it requires extremely high-energy photons to collide with each other and produce electron-positron pairs.

Now, a team of scientists from Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York has reported the first direct observation of matter creation from light in a single step. They used the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), a powerful particle accelerator that can smash together heavy ions at nearly the speed of light. By doing so, they created intense electromagnetic fields that contained virtual photons, which are short-lived disturbances in the fields that behave like real photons.

When two ions passed by each other without colliding, some of their virtual photons interacted and turned into real photons with very high energy. These photons then collided with each other and produced electron-positron pairs, which were detected by the STAR detector at RHIC. The scientists analyzed more than 6,000 such pairs and found that their angular distribution matched the theoretical prediction for matter creation from light.


This experiment not only confirms a long-standing prediction of quantum electrodynamics, but also demonstrates a new way of studying the properties of matter and antimatter in extreme conditions. The scientists hope to further explore this phenomenon and its implications for fundamental physics and cosmology


Reference(s): Research Article


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  1. What does this photo show? What is the circular shape? What is the focal point that is shown to the left of the circle where the parallel tracks converge. Can you explain what this beautiful photo shows? Thank you, Robert

    1. It is not a photo. It is a painting. It is an artists impression of photons around a black hole.

    2. As I see it, in the context of the article, it could also be an ion moving at great velocity - like the one described in the article - and the small bright particles are the electron-positron pair/light parti les that are flying off/colliding with each other.

    3. They produced ball lightnings out of Photons. see: