Cosmology's biggest mystery has been solved due to pioneering work at CERN.
The Big Bang Theory predicts that the universe should contain equal quantities of matter and anti-matter. The fact that only matter had been observed led cosmologists to ask what had happened to the other fifty per-cent of our universe?
Scientists at CERN recently manufactured sufficient quantities of anti-matter to examine its properties, and confirmed that these are indistinguishable from those of matter. This led to the startling realisation that objects made of anti-matter may be all around us.
'Such an object would be undetectable until it came into contact with its "matter twin" - its identical twin, made of matter,' clarified a spokesperson from CERN. 'If such contact occurred, however, each would totally annihilate the other. We were able to test our theory,' she continued, 'when trees were located in the Amazon rainforest that appeared identical in all respects to trees in similar climatic conditions in Borneo. When we brought together twigs from corresponding trees, matter/anti-matter annihilations occurred. This proved that an object made of matter can coexist with its anti-matter twin, as long as they never touch.'
'Anti-matter had been with us all along,' confirmed a delighted Adam Bomb, the leader of the CERN team who made the discovery. 'We simply never spotted it as it looks just like matter. It seems likely,' Professor Bomb continued, 'that chance encounters between "matter objects" and their "anti-matter twins" occur from time to time, but have been incorrectly interpreted. For example, we believe that a number of missing person reports may be explicable in terms of people accidently meeting their anti-matter twins.'
'My Uncle George said he was going to meet a previously unknown twin brother who he'd located on the Internet,' reported a tearful relative to BBC News. 'Later, they only found one charred boot,' she sobbed. 'I think he may have met my Anti-Uncle George.'
Airlines have reacted to this discovery by refusing to allow similar looking passengers to travel on the same aircraft. 'We are concerned that a terrorist and his or her anti-matter twin might separately board a plane,' said a spokesperson for British Airways, 'and then touch each other at 35, 000 feet.'
Due to the energy released during matter/anti-matter annihilations, many scientists now believe this could be an explanation for the phenomenon of spontaneous human combustion. Certainly there is renewed international concern about the consequences of matter and anti-matter meeting in other than laboratory settings.
Australia and New Zealand have issued a joint statement asking for calm amongst residents of the Antipodes. 'We will be urgently using all methods at our disposal to establish the location of the Podes,' confirmed Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. 'We will then offer appropriate safety advice to Antipodean travellers.'
'In retrospect, I'm enormously relieved we were able to keep capitalists and anti-capitalists apart at the G20 protests in 2009,' admitted the Chief Constable of the Metropolitan Police, 'or we could have had a very explosive situation.'
Italian restaurants are reported to be tightening their already stringent procedures for the storage of pasta and antipasta.
Physicists now understand that when a "matter object" is created, its anti-matter twin spontaneously comes into existence, and visa versa. This leads to the question of why more pairs of identical objects are not routinely observed?
'It's because, due to quantum effects in the 13th dimension, matter or anti-matter twins can spontaneously appear anywhere in the universe,' explained Professor Jet Propulsion at his personal laboratory in Pasadena, California. 'It's been a highly classified secret for over forty years that the Apollo 11 astronauts found an obelisk on the moon,' he continued. 'We assumed it to be evidence of extra-terrestrials, but now realise that it was the spontaneously generated, anti-matter twin of an early Ikea wardrobe.'
A worrying fashion trend has developed for celebrities to attempt to locate terrestrial, anti-matter twins of their own possessions, and then exhibit both within feet of each other in their homes. Amy Winehouse was recently pictured on the cover of Hello Magazine holding a bottle of wine in one hand and its anti-matter twin in the other.
'This is insanely dangerous,' said a spokesperson from the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston, 'especially for someone who may be under the influence of cocaine or anti-cocaine, or possibly both.'
'It's impossible for members of the public to distinguish between objects made of matter and those made of anti-matter,' warned Sergeant Tom Ahawk of the British Army Bomb Disposal Team. 'The public are being advised to be vigilant for any two identical objects, people, animals or plants that are in close proximity to each other, and then alert our team immediately. A lady contacted us recently, concerned that all the sheep in a field appeared to her to look the same,' he continued. 'It turned out to be a false alarm, but we would urge the public to always call us, just in case.'