Antimatter a misnomer?

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  • #26
Ryan_m_b
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A couple of thoughts on this topic;

1) The meaning of words inevitably changes over time. Even if we were to magic up an international language standardisation policy (that worked) and make every word crystal clear and reflect the meaning of the concept the next day the system would be broken. Why? Because someone would used a word metaphorically in slang even when it was literally nonsense (e.g. "wow that's really cool!") or someone in an advertising department will coin an inappropriate but sellable name (e.g. "why don't we call our operating system 'windows'?) or an academic will discover something new and have to form a word that both appropriately describes the discovery but in a manner that is practical for communication (e.g. "Right that's decided, we're calling it 'antimatter'", "fine but I still think that it will just mislead people. We should call it 'composed-of-particles-of-opposite-charge-matter'".

2) As has been pointed out 'anti-' has more than one meaning. It can be used to indicate opposite (e.g. antisense oligonucleotide) and opposing (e.g. antibody).
 
  • #27
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My conclusion to contributing to this thread is that we cannot expect to modify common knowledge terms for the sake of clarity, and we can not hope to always assign the most appropriate or non-ambiguous terms to concepts. There is too much momentum in these words, and if you understand the math/science concepts, you can overcome any ambiguity or confusion of a word.

However, I think during teaching and communication, reasonable effort should be stressed to eliminate probable paths of confusion from the English or ambiguous interpretation of concepts. I would like teachers and textbooks to explicitly explain that imaginary numbers are not figments of our imagination and have real world meaning and interpretation. I would like a book introducing the term flux to disclaim it from being used synonymously with other flux usage. A simple sentence or two is all. I think its a fair expectation for someone trying to learn, and I always appreciate when an author goes out of their way to clear things up from common confusion.
 
  • #28
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Does the term antimatter even come up in physics texts?
 
  • #29
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My conclusion to contributing to this thread is that we cannot expect to modify common knowledge terms for the sake of clarity, and we can not hope to always assign the most appropriate or non-ambiguous terms to concepts. There is too much momentum in these words, and if you understand the math/science concepts, you can overcome any ambiguity or confusion of a word.
I would add that
1. The ambiguity is nor restricted to scientific words but is a common feature of language.
Scientific terms are usually a lot less ambiguous than common language.
2.The language cannot be changed by order even if it make sense to do it.
 
  • #30
Ryan_m_b
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The language cannot be changed by order even if it make sense to do it.
Very much agreed, reminds me of this:


1orgas.png
 
  • #31
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My least favorite physics word - Entanglement
 
  • #32
Drakkith
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My least favorite physics word - Entanglement
Entanglement: The state of my extension cord after using it a dozen times and never rolling it up before putting it away.
 
  • #33
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This is my first post on PF. Hello all.

Noting the fact that antimatter has a positive inertial mass and probably an equal, positive gravitational mass, isn't the term a misnomer? I know it has an opposite electrical charge and magnetic moment compared to normal matter, which means the two are partially eachothers opposites. However, I feel it is a stretch to call them mirror images of eachother. Antimatter can indeed annihilate with ordinary matter, but this makes new particles, sometimes even massive ones, rather than the two cancelling eachother out. I therefore propose that what is now called antimatter should really be called "complementary matter" or "Dirac matter".

I'm suggesting this renaming scheme because it's conceivable that one day "true" antimatter with a negative mass may be discovered or predicted in some theoretical framework. What would you call this stuff then?

Discuss.
Antimatter is not a "mirror image" of matter. It is obtained from matter by applying the operation of charge conjugation (C). Mirror images, on the other hand, are obtained by a parity transformation (P).

EDIT:
There is no such thing as negative mass, therefore it makes no sense to reserve the term 'antimatter' for a non-existant property.
 
  • #34
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Antimatter is not a "mirror image" of matter. It is obtained from matter by applying the operation of charge conjugation (C). Mirror images, on the other hand, are obtained by a parity transformation (P).
That is the definition yes. My point is that it's not a very good definition. The term "conjugated matter" would then be a better in my opinion.

EDIT:
There is no such thing as negative mass, therefore it makes no sense to reserve the term 'antimatter' for a non-existant property.
Not that we know of and maybe it doesn't make sense within the context of our visible universe. It would make sense if our visible universe had an invisible counterpart consisting of what I call true antimatter travelling "with" it. This would solve completely the conservation of energy issue that is so awkward in big bang cosmology.
 
  • #35
Drakkith
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Not that we know of and maybe it doesn't make sense within the context of our visible universe. It would make sense if our visible universe had an invisible counterpart consisting of what I call true antimatter travelling "with" it. This would solve completely the conservation of energy issue that is so awkward in big bang cosmology.
Which conservation of energy issue are you referring to?
 
  • #36
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Which conservation of energy issue are you referring to?
I'm talking about the everything from nothing "problem". I'm not making the common error here to mean "that there's so much stuff in it and the universe is so big, it just couldn't have come from nowhere". What i mean is that, if the visible universe inflated out of something which previously existed (which isn't standard big bang cosmology) it would make sense that from the point of view of this previous verse, mass-energy was conserved. This would be the binary event that I'm suggesting.

I'm not trying to provide a rigorous proof here. It's just an open discussion. I have some ideas about the stability of particles comming from from some sort of annihilation effect, which makes it look like particles are "stuck" in in time from our perspective. In this views, massive particles are a bit like what is sometimes called a white hole. They constitute forbidden areas of space. The cause of this, I postulate, is something called the quantum Zeno-effect. I'm suggesting that the mass-energies of the most fundamental particles are quantized and do not just combine in a random fashion because these particles are in fact, constantly "busy" doing their dance with their counterparts that are travelling "with" them. In this view, particles are more like holes in space.

I feel very strongly that relativity is also caused by the quantum Zeno-effect. In my view it provides the link. To put it succinctly: Particles only interact in pairs at any Planck clock tick. If a particle is in a region of space with a high mass-energy density, it is updated more often with regards to this frame of reference, i.e. tha particles in it. From the point of view of an area of space outside of this frame, the paricle (or the clock of which it is a constituent) seems to go slower than normal. Similar arguments can easily be made for Lorentz contractions and other relativity effects.
 
  • #37
berkeman
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Thread closed for Moderation of overly-speculative posts....
 

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