One gram of Antimatter cost about $62.5 trillion making it the world most expensive material. To make just 1 gram of Antimatter, all of mankind will have to work for about a year without rest. NASA estimated that 1 gram of antimatter would cost $62.5 trillion, but today it cost $90 trillion.
Everyone knows that the whole world is made of matter, the stars the planets, water, rocks, me and you, we are all made of matter. But what’s antimatter? Antimatter is a material composed of antiparticles. Every particle we know has an antiparticle that is identical to its particle but with the opposite charge. That means an antiproton, is the antiparticle of the proton, and the positron or antielectron is the antiparticle of the electron, and so on … Since matter and antimatter have opposite charge, the antielectron would be positively charged because the electron is negatively charged, and the same for all particles, proton is positive while antiproton is negative.
What happen when matter and antimatter meet?
Let’s simplify it to basic mathematics. The equation x2 = 4 has two solutions: +2 and -2, and when they meet they disappear leaving a 0. The same is for matter and antimatter, they have the same mass and the same properties but with different charges, and when they meet they annihilate leaving a burst of light caused by the energy of E=mc2
History of Antimatter
The British physicist Paul Dirac first predicted the presence of antimatter when he was trying to combine the theory of relativity with quantum mechanics. And in August 2, 1932 Caltech physicist Carl Anderson discovered the positron, which is the antiparticle of electron (antielectron), it was the first particle of antimatter to be identified, for which he won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1936
How Carl Anderson discovered the positron?
Carl Anderson built a cloud chamber, his goal was to know the composition of cosmic rays (Cosmic rays are high-energy radiation that can produce secondary particles when it meets the earth atmosphere). So Anderson placed a magnet, to know charge of particle that pass in, and he placed a lead plate to slow down the particle that pass through, so he was able to take a photograph of the tracks taken by cosmic ray particles. The curve of the trajectory indicated that the particle was positively charged, but it was less massive than a proton, it is positively charged but it cannot be a proton, so what is that particle? Physicists thought they discovered a new particle, a positively charged electron and gave it the name” positron.” But Anderson realized that the positron is the same as electron but with opposite charge, and he knew it was an antiparticle that Paul Dirac had predicted in 1931.
Why Do We Need To Create Antimatter?
Maybe you would like to create antimatter because it would make you very rich, with $90 trillion for every gram of antimatter, but scientists are creating antimatter to study it, because we won’t find antimatter around us, so we have to create it in order to study it. And of course for the many useful things antimatter can do.
Antimatter have some strange uses, it could be very helpful, but it is hard to conserve a particle of antimatter, because when it will meet with its twin matter particle they will both annihilate leaving a burst of light and energy. And the challenge become harder when dealing with a ton of antimatter, because the larger the number of antimatter is, the bigger the annihilation, and the explosion could be very dangerous. Wait a second, an explosion, yes, when matter and antimatter meet they will disappear because of their opposite charge, and everything left is energy that can be used to make bombs even more dangerous than atomic bombs.
So let’s start with the uses of Antimatter:
- Weapons: why would we use antimatter as a weapon? The advantage is that when matter and antimatter meets, nothing left, 100% of the collision goes into energy this means that the whole sum of their mass energy equivalent (E = mc2) is released as energy, compared to most efficient fusion weapons they only release 7-10% of energy, so antimatter is the big deal. Thus 1 gram of antimatter reacting with 1 gram of matter, produce the energy of three times the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The U.S. Air Force started to study the physics of antimatter in the Cold War, and maybe planning to use antimatter as a destructive weapon in the future.
- Medical: antimatter can be used for bad things like war but it can also cure cancer. The reaction of matter and antimatter is used as a medicine, specifically in Positron emission tomography (PET).
- Fuel : Antimatter could be used to fuel rockets for interstellar travel , because the energy density of antimatter is very higher than ordinary fuel . That means that the first human to land on mars could be on an spaceship powered by antimatter.
How To Create Antimatter?
Based on E=mc2 it would need 25 million billion kWh to make only one gram of antimatter, so in the whole history of CERN‘s antimatter it only made less than 10 nanograms. Antimatter is the most expensive material in the world because it need lot of energy to be created and a lot of work, as said before all of mankind will have to work for about a year without rest to make 1 gram of antimatter.
Scientists create antimatter by transforming energy into mass. They put a lot of energy into a very small space, matter-antimatter pairs are produced, each particle and it’s antiparticle are created into pairs, like proton–antiproton pair. What if you want to create a specific particle-antiparticle pair, like proton-antiproton or electron-positron? The energy you put into that small space should be equivalent to the mass of the particle you want to create, so if you want to create proton-antiproton pairs you have to put more energy than if you want to create electron-positron pairs, because protons are heavier than electron. After creating the particle-antiparticle scientists at the laboratory separate the matter from the antimatter using magnetic fields and take 1 antiproton particle and 1 positron (antielectron) particle, they combine them to make 1 antihydrogen atoms.
It is very hard to trap a single particle of antimatter, thus, scientists are still doing research to find a new technique to trap antimatter for a longer time, but for now here is how they conserve it:
Antimatter may be very useful in the future, for fueling spaceships and curing cancer, but antimatter can be used as a destructive weapon as making bombs with antimatter-matter reaction, and you would know from my previous posts that when we create antimatter it will annihilate in a tiny fraction of seconds leaving energy and a burst of light, because the whole universe we live in is made of matter, and when matter and antimatter meets they will disappear because they have opposite charge (+ and – is neutral thus a zero), so why would we spend $62.5 trillion on 1 gram of something that will disappear in the moment it is created? In fact, we can trap antimatter and conserve it for a couple of seconds before it annihilate with ordinary matter, but this is done in large laboratories like CERN. It is hard to keep something away from matter, when everything is made of matter, thus you cannot trap the antimatter particle in a fancy container, you can’t let the antimatter particle touch the air, because air is made of matter. So how to keep that antimatter particle away from matter? Scientists used a magnetic field to hold the antimatter particle and trap it, it’s energy that trap the antimatter we conserve in a magnetic bottle that is shaped like a bathtub. On 26 April 2011 ALPHA was able to trap 309 anti-hydrogen atoms for 16 minutes, but the good news is that it is getting better with technology development and new techniques.
Artistic representation of ALPHA magnetic trap