A Matter of Antimatter
by Matthew Burnside on November 30, 2010
We are a major step closer to having insanely powerful energy sources thanks to CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. They’ve contained antimatter! I know! Calm down and collect yourself; we are far away from being able to use it. But it’s still awesome!
I like to think of antimatter as the Bizarro version of matter. It’s like matter, but not like it at the same time. As you know, a normal proton is positively charged and an electron is negatively charged. In antimatter, it is reversed. An antiproton is negative and an antielectron, called a positron, is positive.
Eight years ago, CERN began creating large numbers of antihydrogen during an experiment named ATRAP. The problem being that they couldn’t keep the antiatoms from contacting the containment walls and thus reacting. Now, in the ALPHA experiments, CERN has successfully trapped antihydrogen at 9 degrees Kelvin (-443.47 degrees Fahrenheit, -264.15 degrees Celsius) in a magnetic field, allowing them to really get their hands dirty. Once the antihydrogen were trapped, which lasted less than a second, they were released and smashed into hydrogen, annihilating each other. By using silicon sensors to witness the reaction, we know to congratulate them.
To simplify that, if an antiatom touches stuff, everything basically disappears into light and energy. Now they’ve figured out a way for antiatoms to not touch stuff.
Buh Miff, wif shuf wheh cungrifulafe fim?
Don’t talk with food in your mouth. It’s rude.
Sorry. But Matt, why should we congratulate them?
Well, for one, CERN has been working towards this in a variety of experiments since 1995 and a ton of hyper-brainiacs have combined their efforts to make a major step forward in one of the largest physics quandaries ever. Scientists have more-or-less scratched their heads when it comes to antimatter. Now, for the first time, they’ll be able to study it.
It’s believed that the Big Bang produced equal parts antimatter as it did matter, but for some zany reason, the universe seems to have said, “to hell with antimatter.” No one really knows why. Maybe it disappeared. Maybe we can’t find it. Maybe there exists a separate universe made up of antimatter that can’t be in contact with ours. There are a ton of ideas floating around out there. Explore on Google and see what you can find. Or Bing. Whatever. I don’t care. Fuck it. Stroll on over to the site that Jeeves built and ask away!
For two, if we could harness this artificially made antimatter, or find and collect natural antimatter, the resulting reaction with matter would yield super-nuclear power. Also, using antihydrogen as fuel is extremely low in weight, as opposed to regular nuclear power, which is extremely high in weight. The resulting possibilities are incredibly exciting!
I’ve made a list of great ideas for you.
1. MOTHAFUCKIN’ WARP DRIVES!!!!
This is what science fiction has been preparing us for: rip-your-face-off-fast space travel. I hope to hop on a ship and haul ass to Gliese 581 g, leaving behind all the racists, violence, tea partiers, polluters, terrorists, people who don’t say “thank you” when you hold a door open for them, Glee, AT&T, bad parkers, my crazy neighbor, my other neighbor’s dogs, my other, other neighbor’s morning time techno sessions, clearly too small ketchup packets, toilet paper facing the wrong direction, and people with a sexually transmitted disease.
If you are a great person and have an STD, my apologies for leaving you behind. You not coming is a safety measure that should be taken for the sake of Gliese 581 g. That makes you a hero.
We could build the lives we’ve always wanted on G581 g. Peace and love and shit. It may be idealistic, but go ahead, call me a dreamer. I’m not the only one. I know some guy sang about that. I think his band’s music is on iTunes.
I’m not a scientist, but I am constantly angry that with every new step in technology we still don’t get hoverboards. THIS HAS TO COME NEXT! You hear me, lab coats?
3. Not a bomb. Please, not a bomb.
Seriously, please don’t make a bomb out of this.
4. Laser guns
I am cool with a laser gun, though.
5. Magic tricks
By annihilating matter, things will really disappear. No more trap doors or mirrors. If those tigers act up again, poof, gone.
6. The most advanced Pop Rocks Candy ever made.
Hopefully the radiation wouldn’t kill us too quickly.