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post #1 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-28-2006, 01:44 AM Thread Starter
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Antimatter - the missing link in the story of our existence?

I picked up a copy of Dan Brown's "Angels & Demons" the other day after reading "The DaVinci Code." Before the story begins, there's a page titled "FACT" and it talks about antimatter. Specifically, it talks about the research that's being done at CERN (Switzerland's Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire) and states how antimatter is identical to physical matter as we know it, except that its particles have opposite charges. He claims antimatter is "the most powerful energy source known to man. It releases energy with 100 percent efficiency. Antimatter creates no pollution or radiation, and a droplet could power New York City for a full day."

Then the proceeding paragraph begins,

Quote:
Originally Posted by "Dan Brown, Angels & Demons"
"There is, however, one catch... Antimatter is highly unstable. It ignites when it comes in contact with absolutely anything... even air. A single gram of antimatter contains the energy of a 20-kiloton nuclear bomb--the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Until recently antimatter has been created only in very small amounts (a few atoms at a time). But CERN has now broken ground on its new Antiproton Decelerator--an advanced antimatter production facility that promises to create antimatter in much larger quantities.

One question looms: Will this highly volatile substance save the world, or will it be used to create the most deadly weapon ever made?"

So I went online and I did a little bit of reading at the CERN website on Antimatter. What I found was intriguing. In addition to the perfect energy source, it seems antimatter could be the missing link in the story of the Big Bang. On one part of the website, they have a little script to introduce antimatter, and the theory seems to be that in the beginning there was matter & antimatter (the mirror image of matter), but the balance was somehow tipped in favor of matter. Because of this, antimatter was annihilated during the big bang and converted into radiation energy (because all energy is actually a concentrated form of matter -- E = mc^2). Because there was slightly more matter than antimatter, some matter survived the nuclear annihilation and the universe came to be. If this is true, we owe our existence to the fact that matter tipped the scales over antimatter, a chance happening.

Read all about it here: http://livefromcern.web.cern.ch/live...ter/index.html

What's your take on antimatter and what it means for man's future? Do we have the key to the perfect power source, or to our own destruction?


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post #2 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-28-2006, 03:17 AM
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Re: Antimatter - the missing link in the story of our existence?

I am really a little skeptical of the theory that matter won over antimatter. Basically, conventional wisdom holds that the law of conservation of energy is in effect. Antimatter+matter = energy. This means that matter was taken with the antimatter to create the background radiation energy of the universe. There is clearly more matter left over after all the antimatter was converted. Think of it as gas + air = burning. Run out of one, fuel or medium and you have some of the other left over. The guestimate that there was more matter in the beginning is a presumtuous one at best. This is why I choose to believe that the salvation of humanity lies in multiple dimensions.

The production of antimatter most likely involves extracting particles from higher dimensions, at least this is they way I understood it by Michiu Kaku. His book "Hyperspace" is a great read for anyone with even elementary brain cells yet with an interest in multiple dimensions. It seems that they have discovered quarks that do actually disappear in laboratory settings when an atom is "busted." This is also where they have observed antimatter at its basic building blocks appearing for only a moment before it collides with matter and erupts in energy. It takes great energy to make great energy. That is why the underground project in Texas was scrapped after Congress had already poured like $200 mil into it. As facilities become more efficient in creating antimatter (and more importantly... storage and transportation) there may very well be the ability to harness the great power created in it's destruction. Ultimately, this is the way mankind has always "produced" energy - the destruction of matter. Whether in burning coal and other fossil fuels, or solar power which is actually the Sun depleting it's matter stores. The only minor ways we have "harnessed" energy is in water and wind power, both of which utilize motion (there may be more but it is 2AM here). Even when we have animals turn a wheel to make electricity, those animals are turning food matter into carbohydrates to "burn" in their muscles. So the question isn't whether there is enough energy in antimatter... it is rather, are we ready to "harness" the greatness of it's power and the inherant difficulties with containment.

I believe that the best way I read about to contain is within a magnetic field, because remember... it can't touch its container. That means that they have to make more complex molecules because right now all they have been able to put together are the simplest gasses. There is still a long way to go, but as we move forward with quantum computing and more money is spent in search of knowledge, there will be great strides in this technology. The ultimate stride of course being when the power created by the destruction of antimatter will be used to create as much or more antimatter than what was destroyed.

A footnote: scientist have calculated that 80% of the universes mass is invisible and unobservable. Current trends expect that this mass can be attributed to something around us, everwhere, existing in a higher dimension that is completely outside our realm of observation. Could this be where antimatter went when so much energy was created? Does all this information lead one to confirm or disprove the existance of God? Could he be waiting for us, all around us, in a higher dimension... waiting to show us to a palace in the sky?


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post #3 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-28-2006, 03:31 AM
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Re: Antimatter - the missing link in the story of our existence?

wow... one of the most intellectual post ever. Are you a professor at a university?
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post #4 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-28-2006, 03:59 AM
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Re: Antimatter - the missing link in the story of our existence?

Thanks for the comment, but no. I just had this uncanny creative side of me in high school that led me to read massive amounts on quantum physics. I decided not to do physics in college because I literally could waste my life away pondering just one question. Unfortunately for me, I believe that my craving for answers will in the end get me back into school part-time just trying to get my ADD under control from the inside. If I ever set my mind on learning something, I go obsessive about it. Guess it's a good thing my mind is set on my wife and not tail in general, right?

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post #5 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-28-2006, 08:27 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Antimatter - the missing link in the story of our existence?

Maybe it was the hand of God that tipped the scales in favor of matter so that the universe came to be as it is?

:hide:


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post #6 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-28-2006, 09:43 AM
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Re: Antimatter - the missing link in the story of our existence?

The thing that is not quite evident in the intro to Angles and Demons is the fact that although anti-matter is 100% energy efficient, it is not 100% energy efficient to create anti-matter.

Current conversion rates yield about 50% of the input energy as output from the anti-matter (IE for every 2 joules of energy needed to create anti-matter, you get 1 'joules worth' of anti-matter). You get 100% energy efficiency when you take into account that anti-matter anhilates exactly as much matter as there is anti-matter (so you net 100% in the end, 1 joules worth fo anti-matter + 1 joules worth of matter yields you 2 joules of energy (what it took to create the 1 joule of anti-matter)).

So you CANNOT generate more energy then it takes to create the anti-matter, not unless you can find some already created stores of anti-matter (none anywhere even fricken close to us). However, anti-matter is a PERFECT storage medium as it yields exactly as much energy as was put into it. This is unlike batteries, capacitors, flywheels, etc. There is going to be some lose from them, but not with anti-matter (there may be some energy lose if you take into account actually generating electricity from the anti-matter/matter reaction, but the usable energy is 100% (so say using it as 'rocket' fuel it would be 100% efficient).

Anti-matter can't really be used as fuel, as there is not extra power output then it took to create it, however it can be used as a perfectly efficient storage medium.

As far as I am aware (and I have read into anti-matter quite a bit) there aren't even any workable theories on ways to create anti-matter with better then a 50% efficiency (which means you will never get more energy out of a matter/anti-matter reaction then it took to create the anti-matter to begin with). The only way this is the wave of the future is as a storage medium. It tkaes up significantly less space for its energy density then anything. It would be perfect both as a reactant and reaction mass for rocketry/space craft and as a power source for them. Much easier to use a large fusion/fission reactor to create a large amount of anti-matter and then store the much smaller amount on a space ship for propulsion and/or electricity generation (the power plant would also be much smaller then an equivelent output fission/fusion power plant).
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post #7 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-28-2006, 09:45 AM
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Re: Antimatter - the missing link in the story of our existence?

[quote author=3AndMe link=topic=50053.msg790865#msg790865 date=1151497634]
Maybe it was the hand of God that tipped the scales in favor of matter so that the universe came to be as it is?

:hide:

[/quote]

you might be on to something there...what else could have tipped the balance?
Another argument for divine intervention: The universe is constantly going form a state of organization to disorganization, in other words, entropy is the general law of the universe...everything is breaking down into simpler and simpler elements.
Why then did atoms and molecules "organize" into complex compounds and eventually into living creatures? This goes against the general trend, so where did the impetus for the origin of life come from? God?

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post #8 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-28-2006, 10:05 AM
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Re: Antimatter - the missing link in the story of our existence?

Let not make this a god discussion. There are enough theories out there about the big bang and I think only one or two attempt to substantiate divine intervention. Most pretty accurately account for what happened starting a couple of seconds after the big bang (and on to today)...so if you want a god disucssion maybe you could convince me that there was some divine intervention that tipped the scales on the matter/anti-matter or even the whole big bang issue, but everything starting a few seconds after that is scientifically explainable (and the big bang itself might well be someday once someone comes up with a decent enough model).

One other thing to note, anti-matter has been around for some while now (about a decade or so for atoms). I am not sure the date of the first produced anti-matter, but the first theory was the Dirac model on electrons that pointed to the existance of anti-electrons (the model had solutions to it that were negative as well as positive). That was back in 1926 and it was more formalized in the early 1930s the possibility of anti-matter (it was generally called something else then, but I don't remeber what). CERN was the first lab to produce anti-hydrgogen in 1995 (a positron orbiting an anti-proton), 9 total anti-hydrogen atoms. In 2002 the first cold anti-hydrogen (the other stuff was super energetic and hard to study) was created and succesfully trapped in a penning trap (alternating electric and magnetic fields, basically an electro-magnetic bottle).

Here is a bit right off of wikipedia
"The biggest limiting factor in the production of antimatter is the availability of antiprotons. Recent data released by CERN states that when fully operational their facilities are capable of producing 107 antiprotons per second. Assuming an optimal conversion of antiprotons to antihydrogen, it would take two billion years to produce 1 gram of antihydrogen.

Another limiting factor to antimatter production is storage. As stated above there is no known way to effectively store antihydrogen. The ATHENA project has managed to keep antihydrogen atoms from annihilation for tens of seconds — just enough time to briefly study their behaviour.

According to an article on the website of the CERN laboratories, which produces antimatter on a regular basis, "If we could assemble all the antimatter we've ever made at CERN and annihilate it with matter, we would have enough energy to light a single electric light bulb for a few minutes."
"

Anti-matter technology is still a LONG way away. Commercial fusion technoloy is probably a good 20-50 years in the future to see any kind of true wide spread use (read up on the ITER fusion project if you want, it is interesting www.iter.org), anti-matter technology is probably a good 30-50 years beyond that (and then most likely for things like space craft/rocketry propulsion).
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post #9 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-28-2006, 10:09 AM
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Re: Antimatter - the missing link in the story of our existence?

[quote author=azazel1024 link=topic=50053.msg790980#msg790980 date=1151503511]
Let not make this a god discussion.

Another limiting factor to antimatter production is storage. As stated above there is no known way to effectively store antihydrogen.

-Matt
[/quote]

God can store it!

--John (recovering catholic)

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post #10 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-28-2006, 10:38 AM
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Re: Antimatter - the missing link in the story of our existence?

I don't understand why every time when there is an intelligent discussion about the universe people have to bring god up. To be honest I don't even know what GOD is or what that means. If people believe in god that's great for them but they shouldn't mix science with god. These theories about the universe are based on facts that we can observe today. Science may not yet be able to explain what caused the big bang but that doesn’t mean that we have automatically assume that god caused it. There is still a lot of unanswered question and the only way we are going to come close to answering those questions if we remain skeptical.

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