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Antimatter and Its Containment

Essay by   •  May 21, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  3,414 Words (14 Pages)  •  1,396 Views

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Abstract

What is Antimatter? What does it do? Is it dangerous? Is it helpful? All these questions are important but in order for Antimatter to be researched, it first must be contained. Antimatter has a unique property though since when it touches any matter it vanishes. That reaction is called annihilation and a productive property about annihilation is that it produces energy (usually in the form of photons). Many people nowadays wonder how it can benefit society. Could it be used for medicinal purposes? Could it be used for war? Funny thing is though; it already is being used today in the world of medicine to help sick cancer patients and more. Though it may seem like a straight forward question "How do you contain Antimatter?" you must first know a bit about Antimatter in order to fully grasp the gravity of the situation. Antimatter has always been there and has been speculated about for almost a whole century now. Billion dollar projects have been made in order to create and further our knowledge of Antimatter such as a Large Hadron Collider. Antimatter though must be contained in order for all the research to take place though, which is through the use of magnetic forces.

Keywords: Antimatter, Annihilation, Large Hadron Colliders

Antimatter and its Containment

In the world of physics and science, everything boils down to about one thing; quarks. Humans are made of cells, cells are made of molecules, and molecules are made of atoms which are composed of quarks. Yet what is strange about quarks is that their electric charge, mass, spin, and interactions determine what kind of quark they are. There are six types of quarks (known as flavors); up, down, strange, charm, bottom and top. Up and down are the key ones to look at since they are the only ones that have the exact mass to be stable quarks (since their mass decays over time). The key part for the difference between up and down is their charge and since up is positive and down is negative, what happens when the charges/signs are changed? This has been a question sought out by scientists for ages and just tossed aside as a fantasy by most. Yet over time scientists were able to overcome this obstacle as technology advanced and humanity's knowledge increased. (Nave, 2008)

In 1928 a physicist by the name of Paul Dirac wrote an equation that exhibited the components of particles and showed how electrons were one component, yet there was a blank spot. Two of the answers led to the explanation of an electron with a negative charge yet there were still two more solutions that were not negative electrons (Martinez, Tanner, & Stephens, 2003). Four years later a scientist by the name of Carl Anderson found proof of a positron (an anti-electron) with his cosmic ray detector because positrons leave traces that they existed in the form of energy (Giacomelli & Poli, 2006). Eventually the answer was established that each particle had a counterpart of the original particle. An example of this is a positron, (an antielectron) which is an opposite version of an electron. Eventually when particle accelerators came into existence a separate one was made by the name of Project Beauty (CERN, 2008). It was specially designed to create antiparticles that could be analyzed for science. A couple years later, an opposite version of the charm quark was made and it managed to falsify the theory of symmetry. The opposite of charm quarks were not only in opposite charge but also were different in other properties.

Antimatter is a form of matter in which the particles are of an opposite charge than the normal particle's charge is. For example, an antielectron is known as a positron and has a positive charge yet is just like an electron in many other attributes. They both have the same electron ring configuration and even the same size. The only difference between antimatter and matter are the electric charges. When being written for equations, protons and antiprotons are denoted as p andp . A main property of antimatter is that when any contact of its counterpart is made, both particles collide in such a way that neither matter nor antimatter is left after the collision, but due to the "Law of Conservation of Matter" energy is exerted as a result (usually in the form of photons or light).

In 1905, Albert Einstein created the Theory of Special Relativity which was based on two hypothesizes; that the speed of light in a vacuum is constant and that the laws of physics are equal for observers in relative motion with constant speed. It also has a new idea of space-time and that energy can be converted into mass (and vice versa hinting at annihilation). Following that, Werner Heisenberg founded the idea of Quantum Mechanics which was the theory at the smallest dimensions of the fundamental particles. It stated that in an atom the energy, the momentum, the angular momentum, all assume base values quanta.

Roughly twenty-three years later Paul Dirac combined the ideas of both Special Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. Yet his equation he solved had two answers; one was an electron with a negative charge and another with a positive charge! Though it was contrary to classical belief Paul theorized the idea of an "antiparticle." He kept at this theory and later on in his Nobel lecture Dirac theorized that every particle has an antiparticle. The definition of an antiparticle as Dirac described it was any particle with an opposite charge of the commonly known particle. As Dirac experimented with this idea he even thought of the possibility of whole universes made of antimatter. (Martinez, Tanner, & Stephens, 2003)

Though these past physicists were great at suggesting theories, the first man recorded to witness antimatter first hand was an American physicist by the name of Carl David Anderson. In 1932, while working on cosmic rays in his lab, he noticed a particle that behaved like an electron but had a positive charge. Astonished, he rushed to speak of his discovery of the first recorded positron. Yet sadly his age's technology was limited since the only known way to make more positrons is with the help of a particle accelerator.

Later in the 1950's, powerful enough particle accelerators were made and the one at Berkeley, California produced both antiprotons and antineutrons. Technology kept improving and then two new particle accelerators were able to produce antideuterons (stable particle consisting of antiprotons and antielectrons) one at CERN, Geneva and the other at Brookhaven, USA. The newest and most powerful particle accelerators to date though are Serpukhov in Russia and CERN which lies beneath the borders of Switzerland and France. Both of these extremely

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