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New Laser Technique Produces Bevy of Antimatter

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posted on Dec, 2 2008 @ 11:39 AM
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Dec. 1, 2008 -- Blasting a gold target with high-powered lasers creates huge amounts of antimatter, reported scientists.

A steady supply of the antimatter particles, known as positrons, is a big step towards solving some fundamental mysteries, such as why more matter than antimatter survived the Big Bang at the start of the universe. A supply of antimatter could also be used in creating a new generation of tools for fields as diverse as astrophysics and medicine.

"This is the first substantial source of antimatter using lasers," said Hui Chen of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Substantial indeed. The California researchers estimate that with every shot of their laser, which fires every 30 minutes, they create about 10 billion positrons, also called anti-electrons. That's several orders of magnitude more than the other two existing sources of positrons: natural radioactive decay and large linear accelerators.
Source


Thought i'd share this for those interested. Wasnt there talks of antimatter propulsion systems on here a while back? Interesting times




posted on Dec, 2 2008 @ 11:58 AM
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Hooray!, we're one step closer to anti-matter bombs! There goes the galaxy. Oh, well, I'm sure this will be used for peaceful applications first. Not.

[edit on 2-12-2008 by dashen]



posted on Dec, 2 2008 @ 12:32 PM
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I'm confused. I thought if antimatter reacting with matter equals a big kaboom? Don't these positrons that created interact with matter afterwards?



posted on Dec, 2 2008 @ 12:38 PM
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Originally posted by zephyrs
I'm confused. I thought if antimatter reacting with matter equals a big kaboom? Don't these positrons that created interact with matter afterwards?


Rest assured the net amount of anti-matter they produced, no matter how "large" it is in description, is still pretty miniscule and the positrons will die off upon impacting ordinary matter while emitting a harmless amount of X rays.



posted on Dec, 2 2008 @ 01:25 PM
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These positrons are suspended, last time I heard, in a strong electro-magnetic field, which keeps em from zipping off and colliding with loose electrons.



posted on Dec, 2 2008 @ 07:48 PM
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But can it get rid of my hangover? That is the most important question...



posted on Dec, 3 2008 @ 04:08 AM
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Originally posted by dashen
Hooray!, we're one step closer to anti-matter bombs! There goes the galaxy. Oh, well, I'm sure this will be used for peaceful applications first. Not.


Unfortunately war and conflict have been the main catalysts behind many of our technological (and in cases medical) advances. The silly thing is, if we all pulled together, so much more could be achieved, but we let minor differences get in the way. Hopefully as we evolve, society will pull together, because if not, these minor differences could be the end of mankind



posted on Dec, 3 2008 @ 08:26 AM
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Originally posted by dashen
Hooray!, we're one step closer to anti-matter bombs! There goes the galaxy. Oh, well, I'm sure this will be used for peaceful applications first. Not.

[edit on 2-12-2008 by dashen]


yeah, just as soon as the energy to create a kiloton's worth of antimatter become cheaper than the fissile material it takes to build an equivalent sized nuclear bomb, and as soon as having weapons that are at risk of exploding in storage if they're jarred too hard, and which will explode if not kept constantly supplied with electricity isn't a problem anymore.

Any process which creates antimatter is at best 50% efficient, since it has an equal chance of creating normal matter. The antimatter reaction itself is also very inefficient, in terms of boom per energy, but typical fission bombs are too, due to unfissioned fissile material being blown away by the explosion before it can react, so I'll be generous and say that antimatter bombs only lose an equivalent amount of efficiency. So if you're using a nuclear power plant, for the same fissile material that's used up making the antimatter bomb, you could make a nuclear bomb twice as powerful, and it probably wouldn't be much heavier, due to the metastable magnetic containment bottle required for an antimatter bomb, as well as it's batteries, etc.

To conclude;
as a weapon, antimatter is only really good for making a bomb that's physically a bit smaller, and monetarily more than twice as expensive and thousands of times less safe than an equivalently powered nuclear bomb.

It really does have more utility in (relatively) peaceful roles, especially as an energy storage medium for rockets, where every gram counts.



posted on Dec, 3 2008 @ 08:27 AM
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Neat.

I wonder if this will effect the value of gold.
Perhaps gold is a solid investment after all.





posted on Dec, 3 2008 @ 09:24 AM
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Just a thought..

Maybe this is the reason gold was so valued by many ancient civilizations? I wonder what other properties gold has that other elements may not. If gold is the source of antimatter production, along with theories of laser like precision in architecture.. maybe they actually were producing antimatter for some reason? or maybe someone else was..?

Although, the more steps in this direction we take, the more years are chopped off our existence, because its only a matter of time before this is turned into a weapon.

Think of the energy problems we could solve with this kind of technology, but of course that would never happen because that would mean the ones controlling the fossil fuel based energy would no longer be in control. With no radiation, and a 100% conversion to energy, this would also be so much more safer for the environments, because god knows how much we have polluted this dear with with immense amounts of radioactivity throughout all the years of testing, failure, and disasters such as Chernobyl.

One day, after we blow ourselves up, I hope we realize the potential for greatness that could come from our technological advances. But until then.. let the bombs get bigger and the population dissolve.



posted on Dec, 3 2008 @ 09:29 AM
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Do any of you realize what kind of power an anti-matter explosion would produce? Does anyone really think that creating an anti-matter bomb will be just some fancy type of nuke and wont affect your backyard?

Blow up half the damned planet why dont you!!! Cuz thats what will happen in an anti-matter expolosion.


Cheers!!!!



posted on Dec, 3 2008 @ 09:50 AM
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reply to post by enduser
 


Unless otherwise specified, I assume that the net energy that can be extracted from the newly created antimatter would equal the energy delivered by the laser. Right?

-rrr



posted on Dec, 3 2008 @ 09:59 AM
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Maybe this is the reason UFO's hang out around our wateringhole. Gold is pretty and all that but imagine if it is the "petrol" of spacefaring civilizations. Now imagine some goverment making a deal to exchange gold for tech...



posted on Dec, 3 2008 @ 10:43 AM
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Originally posted by rickyrrr
reply to post by enduser
 

Unless otherwise specified, I assume that the net energy that can be extracted from the newly created antimatter would equal the energy delivered by the laser. Right?


Im not entirely sure to be honest, i dont think the article mentioned the cost of running the lasers? it's certainly not cheap at $6.25 x 10¹º per milligram (according to NASA). I think at one point NASA were seeing if would be feasible to acquire the stuff from the Van Allen belt, to save on the production costs.

Heres some info about using antimatter as a fuel



The energy per unit mass (9×1016 J/kg) is about 10 orders of magnitude greater than chemical energy, about 4 orders of magnitude greater than nuclear energy that can be liberated using nuclear fission, and about 2 orders of magnitude greater than the best possible form of fusion.

The reaction of 1 kg of antimatter with 1 kg of matter would produce 1.8×1017 J (180 petajoules) of energy (by the mass-energy equivalence formula E = mc²), or the rough equivalent of 47 megatons of TNT. For comparison, Tsar Bomba, the largest nuclear weapon ever detonated, reacted an estimated yield of 50 Megatons, which required the use of hundreds of kilograms of fissile material (Uranium/Plutonium).Source


and something from NASA in 1999


The popular belief is that an antimatter particle coming in contact with its matter counterpart yields energy. That's true for electrons and positrons (anti-electrons). They'll produce gamma rays at 511,000 electron volts.

But heavier particles like protons and anti-protons are somewhat messier, making gamma rays and leaving a spray of secondary particles that eventually decay into neutrinos and low-energy gamma rays.

And that is partly what Schmidt and others want in an antimatter engine. The gamma rays from a perfect reaction would escape immediately, unless the ship had thick shielding, and serve no purpose. But the charged debris from a proton/anti-proton annihilation can push a ship. Source



posted on Dec, 4 2008 @ 01:32 PM
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We need Anti-Protons to develop WMD or a propulsion system. Not much power in the positron.
In regards to a potential enemy, positrons would be like throwing sand in their faces when we should be using stones or even boulders like the anti-proton
bilder



posted on Dec, 4 2008 @ 11:22 PM
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Originally posted by rickyrrr
reply to post by enduser
 


Unless otherwise specified, I assume that the net energy that can be extracted from the newly created antimatter would equal the energy delivered by the laser. Right?

-rrr


Actually, at best half the energy delivered by the laser. An equal amount of energy also goes into creating regular matter. Realistically it's probably less than 1% of the energy delivered by the laser, but it's still apparently a much more efficient process than regular methods. Also: it only produces positrons, no anti-protons. Anti-protons still have to be produced in particle accelerators, and lower efficiencies.


Originally posted by RFBurns
Do any of you realize what kind of power an anti-matter explosion would produce? Does anyone really think that creating an anti-matter bomb will be just some fancy type of nuke and wont affect your backyard?

Blow up half the damned planet why dont you!!! Cuz thats what will happen in an anti-matter expolosion.


Cheers!!!!



Yes, I do. And you very obviously don't. You can work it out with simple math (E=mc^2), and while it's powerful, you still need a lot of it to get real effects. The kind of power an anti-matter explosion can produce is determined by the amount of antimatter, and the amount of antimatter is determined by the amount of energy that goes into making it. Since even this improved process is extremely inefficient, it will take a lot of power for very little return.

It takes about a half gram of antimatter to equal the power of the bombs used on Hiroshima, a very small nuke by today's standards. That amount of antimatter would take about something like 25 to 50 quadrillion dollars to produce, and take perhaps 20-50 billion years. The actual bombs used on Hiroshima took just a few years and the equivalent of a few billion of today's dollars to research, invent, design, construct, and uitlize.

Frankly, if it weren't for the practical disadvantages in storing them, I'd rather everyone use antimatter bombs instead of nuclear bombs of corresponding size, because antimatter bombs produce less particle radiation. Lots more gamma rays, yes, but less particle radiation.



posted on Dec, 5 2008 @ 05:30 AM
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Originally posted by Helmkat
Maybe this is the reason UFO's hang out around our wateringhole. Gold is pretty and all that but imagine if it is the "petrol" of spacefaring civilizations. Now imagine some goverment making a deal to exchange gold for tech...
I think this is a very good point. This would explain alot of things in my opinion. I've always wondered why gold has tended to bear so much importance over the world's history. I know it's shiny as all get-out, a good conductor and all that, but our very lives revolve around it vicariously through our currency.



posted on Dec, 5 2008 @ 05:49 PM
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reply to post by mdiinican
 


ADDENDUM: By "25 to 50 quadrillion dollars to produce, and take perhaps 20-50 billion years" I of course mean assuming we started today, with today's technology and energy prices, and continued that without change until we got the desired half-gram of antimatter. I'm sure we'll think of better methods in the near future, let alone in 20-50 billion years. it will still probably have a maximum efficiency of 50%, though.

Also: there isn't really any practical method of storing antihydrogen; usually we can only maintain a few million atoms of the stuff at any one time, using full production to supplant losses due to annihilation.



posted on Dec, 11 2008 @ 05:15 PM
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I would say the efficiency is terrible! They are usng a petawatt laser to produce 10 billion positrons. working out the energy for that number of positrons it works out to about 818 millijoules of potential energy that would be released by them. Thats about the power of a CD players laser, so no need to worry about antimatter weapons just yet....



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