The standard model of elementary interactions has long qualified as a theory of matter, in which the postulated conservation laws (one baryonic and three leptonic) acquire theoretical meaning. However, recent observations of lepton number violations -- neutrino oscillations -- demonstrate its incompleteness. We discuss why these considerations suggest the correctness of Ettore Majorana's ideas on the nature of neutrino mass, and add further interest to the search for an ultra-rare nuclear process in which two particles of matter (electrons) are created, commonly called neutrinoless double beta decay. The approach of the discussion is mainly historical and its character is introductory. Some technical considerations, which highlight the usefulness of Majorana's representation of gamma matrices, are presented in the appendix.
Comments: 24 pages, 1 figure, 4 tables. Accepted for publication in Universe