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  1. Abstract

    Einstein’s general theory of relativity from 19151remains the most successful description of gravitation. From the 1919 solar eclipse2to the observation of gravitational waves3, the theory has passed many crucial experimental tests. However, the evolving concepts of dark matter and dark energy illustrate that there is much to be learned about the gravitating content of the universe. Singularities in the general theory of relativity and the lack of a quantum theory of gravity suggest that our picture is incomplete. It is thus prudent to explore gravity in exotic physical systems. Antimatter was unknown to Einstein in 1915. Dirac’s theory4appeared in 1928; the positron was observed5in 1932. There has since been much speculation about gravity and antimatter. The theoretical consensus is that any laboratory mass must be attracted6by the Earth, although some authors have considered the cosmological consequences if antimatter should be repelled by matter7–10. In the general theory of relativity, the weak equivalence principle (WEP) requires that all masses react identically to gravity, independent of their internal structure. Here we show that antihydrogen atoms, released from magnetic confinement in the ALPHA-g apparatus, behave in a way consistent with gravitational attraction to the Earth. Repulsive ‘antigravity’ is ruled out in this case. This experiment paves the way for precision studies of the magnitude of the gravitational acceleration between anti-atoms and the Earth to test the WEP.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 28, 2024
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  4. At the historic Shelter Island Conference on the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics in 1947, Willis Lamb reported an unexpected feature in the fine structure of atomic hydrogen: a separation of the 2S1/2 and 2P1/2 states1. The observation of this separation, now known as the Lamb shift, marked an important event in the evolution of modern physics, inspiring others to develop the theory of quantum electrodynamics2–5. Quantum electrodynamics also describes antimatter, but it has only recently become possible to synthesize and trap atomic antimatter to probe its structure. Mirroring the historical development of quantum atomic physics in the twentieth century, modern measurements on anti-atoms represent a unique approach for testing quantum electrodynamics and the foundational symmetries of the standard model. Here we report measurements of the fine structure in the n = 2 states of antihydrogen, the antimatter counterpart of the hydrogen atom. Using optical excitation of the 1S–2P Lyman-α transitions in antihydrogen6, we determine their frequencies in a magnetic field of 1 tesla to a precision of 16 parts per billion. Assuming the standard Zeeman and hyperfine interactions, we infer the zero-field fine-structure splitting (2P1/2–2P3/2) in antihydrogen. The resulting value is consistent with the predictions of quantum electrodynamics to a precision of 2 per cent. Using our previously measured value of the 1S–2S transition frequency6,7, we find that the classic Lamb shift in antihydrogen (2S1/2–2P1/2 splitting at zero field) is consistent with theory at a level of 11 per cent. Our observations represent an important step towards precision measurements of the fine structure and the Lamb shift in the antihydrogen spectrum as tests of the charge– parity–time symmetry8 and towards the determination of other fundamental quantities, such as the antiproton charge radius9,10, in this antimatter system. 
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