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Anti matter

  1. Jan 20, 2012 #1
    I was watching a programme on anti matter 'discovery' whereby a guy claimed that research is going on to create this... The way this guy described the energy was that if a 'anti matter' clone of himself was to touch him, both him and the surroundings would be obliterated..

    He claimed that Just one gram of anti matter would provide enough energy to have roughly 40 return trips to space

    My question is, how does this work? Does anyone understand or can explain the theory behind this?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 20, 2012 #2

    Ryan_m_b

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    Antimatter is like normal matter but the charges in the atom are reversed. Instead of having negatively charged electrons orbiting the positively charged nucleus anti-atoms have positively charged positrons orbiting a negatively charged nucleus. When matter and antimatter come into contact they annihilate each other in an almost perfect mass to energy reactions.

    Antimatter can be made but in amounts of a few particles at a time (and the world record for storage is only 16 minutes). Consequently antimatter is one of the most expensive substances in existence. Unfortunately antimatter isn't a magic energy source; to make it takes energy. In some respects it would be an excellent rocket fuel, energy storage medium or weapon but we have no way to make it in bulk properties, it takes a lot of energy to make and it is highly dangerous. It has to be stored in a magnetic bottle in vacuum, if the magnet stops the antimatter will hit the walls of the chamber and release a massive amount of energy. Half a gram of antimatter combining with half a gram of matter will release more energy than the hiroshima bomb.
     
  4. Jan 20, 2012 #3
    Wow thanks for that Ryan, I find it fascinating
     
  5. Jan 20, 2012 #4

    Drakkith

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    Ryan, was the 16 minutes the record for an actual atom of antimatter? I thought we had contained anti-protons or positrons for much longer than that before.
     
  6. Jan 21, 2012 #5

    Ryan_m_b

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    The 16 minute figure was for antihydrogen. Essentially positrons and antiprotons were kept into a magnetic bottle together and formed antihydrogen atoms. Here's a cool video/article describing it. I was under the impression that this was the record for all antimatter but I can't find evidence (in a quick google) to confirm or deny this.
     
  7. Jan 21, 2012 #6

    Drakkith

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    The wikipedia article on antimatter lists 17 minutes as the record for "neutral antimatter", and given the much much easier task of trapping charged particles I'd bet that the record is only for neutral antimatter.
     
  8. Jan 21, 2012 #7

    Vanadium 50

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    Antiprotons have been held in storage rings for weeks.
     
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