Scientists from rival research teams said Friday the universe contains no more than three types of matter, a critical breakthrough in understanding how the stars and planets were created.
Separate teams in Europe and California working with huge particle accelerators reached similar conclusions almost simultaneously, timing that scientists maintain lends credence to their discoveries.The near-simultaneous release of the information - confirming what schoolchildren have always been told, that all matter is either solid, liquid or gas - also underscores the competitive nature of such findings.
The team from Stanford Linear Accelerator in California formally presented its findings Thursday, while scientists from the European Laboratory for Particle Physics presented their research Friday.
Though physicists have long sought confirmation of the theory that the universe is made up of three fundamental types of matter, only until recently did they have the technology to study it.
Giant accelerators helped scientists confirm that among the more than 100 particles in the universe, there are three basic "families" - solids, liquids and gases - supporting the popular "Standard Model" theory of the nature of matter.