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Hypothetical Situation: Would a beam made of antiparticles explode on initiation?

  1. Aug 23, 2010 #1
    I'm no expert in particle physics, I only know some of the basics, though I do plan on going into this field for a PhD in the future, which will probably take another year before I begin it...

    Would a beam of antimatter particles, either made up of only 1 type of particle, or a mix of particles, explode instantly the second they were created?

    Like if there was a way to use use antiparticles as weapons, would it even be possible except in like a bomb form? If antiparticles instantly release a ton of energy when coming in contact with the respective normal particle, would a beam, or a gun that shoots such a beam, blow up instantly upon firing?

    I can understand about making a bomb if we could somehow utilize them in a large enough amount... but what about beams? I know this is basically Science Fiction at the moment, but theoretically what are the issues with such a device? I'm just posting this because I'm curious on how they would behave in the above described manner.

    Post any potential theoretical models you might have in mind also, I am very curious about these things because they are interesting to think about, since sometime in the future it may be possible.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 23, 2010 #2
    Unlike antiparticles, air is regular matter. A beam would not go very far. Actually, a beam of regular matter doesn't go very far either, whether it is a cathode ray, the helium that would come out of a pierced balloon, or the exhaust gas of a car. If you want the least amount of range, you need vacuum.
  4. Aug 23, 2010 #3
    Well that's with todays technology. Who knows what kind of advances we can make in the future... though aside the fact that the beam wouldn't go far... if we somehow discovered a way to propel a beam of particles with enough force out of say something the size of a Turret gun(irrelevant to this hypothetical situation), could such a beam be used to obliterate objects depending on what kind of antiparticle beam could be fired?

    Ignoring the fact that as far as we know today, it wouldn't go far at all, just hypothetical....
  5. Aug 23, 2010 #4


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    No, why would you think that would happen? They'd keep going until they ran into normal matter.
    Not unless you let the antimatter come in contact with the gun. In practice, you'd probably use magnetic fields for containment and isolation.

    Ever heard of the Tevatron? Or LEP?* They're basically antimatter guns (although not of the sort you could stick in a holster and carry around :wink:).

    *more precisely, the Tevatron's Antiproton Source and LEP's positron converter
  6. Aug 24, 2010 #5
    Diazona, the air is made up of matter. I would assume a particle accelerators smashing sub atomic particles has a pretty good vacuum.... though I'm talking about for practical applications.

    I'm thinking any kind of anti-particle possible of colliding and exploding organic objects would obliterate the instant it hit simple air(inside/out the the weapon). At least unless there was some way to make them smart :P.
  7. Aug 24, 2010 #6


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    Yes, particle accelerators do operate in a high vacuum. And yes, antiparticles fired out of a gun into the atmosphere would annihilate the moment they came into contact with air. But that's not "instantly upon firing".
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