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Dynamics of Protonium

  1. Jan 21, 2007 #1
    At this link we see experimental evidence for Protonium, a union (unstable) of proton ion and antiproton ion:
    I wish to better understand the quantum mechanical dynamics of how protonium can be formed, even if for short period of time--that is, why not 100% annihilation--why any union at all ? Also, is there any theory of possible interactions of "proton sea" with "antiproton sea" to be part of the dynamics of the union ? Any help is appreciated--I hope this is the correct area to post this question.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 21, 2007 #2
    Is that kind of like asking why the solar system (or even a galaxy) exists at all, instead of everything immediately just surrendering to gravity (which you would expect to pull everything together into a single black hole)?
  4. Jan 21, 2007 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    You can ask the same questions about positronium which has been extensively studied. There's surely a lot more literature out there about positronium than about protonium, so you might direct your search in that direction first.

    As to why the particle and antiparticle don't simply annihilate each other immediately... If the wave functions of the two particles overlap only partially, then the probability of interaction depends on the amount of overlap, all other things being equal. The smaller the overlap, the longer you have to wait (on average) for an interaction to take place.
  5. Jan 23, 2007 #4
    Not really to the question, but I remeber reading about an antimatter engine that would use protonium or positronium as fuel. I don't remember what it was called or where I saw it, but it was interesting if you want to look for it.
  6. Jan 25, 2007 #5

    Gib Z

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    Homework Helper

    O yes its got a simple name. Its an anti matter engine, possibly might be used in the future for intergalactic travel.

    As to why theres that really small pause, forces and reactions can't occur faster than the speed of light, even that small distance between the particles makes some difference. But yes, the best answer with the Copenhagen Interpretation is the wave function thing jtbell said.

    Another way of thinking about this problem could be using Heisenberg's Uncertainty principle. You can't measure 2 conjugate variables with 100% accuracy at the same instant in time, even theoretically with perfect apparatus. There is one about energy and time. To tell if the annihilation has occurred, we must measure the change in energy, which he can't measure perfectly with time :)
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