Antimatter is a subatomic particle that has the same mass as its corresponding matter particle, but opposite charge.
The existence of antimatter was predicted by Albert Einstein in his famous E=mc2 equation.
What Is The Difference Between Normal Matter And Antimatter?
Both matter and antimatter are fundamental building blocks of nature.
Matter refers to any physical object composed of atoms; antimatter refers to matter composed entirely of identical particles having the same properties as those of regular matter with the opposite electrical charge.
When Was Antimatter Discovered?
Paul Dirac, the British physicist, built upon Einstein’s prediction, combining it with quantum mechanics in 1928.
He found that each particle had a mirror image that was positive to their negative or vice versa.
American physicist Carl Anderson then discovered evidence of these and, at the suggestion of a Journal editor, called them positrons.
Each man was awarded the Nobel Prize for their work, in 1933 and 1936 respectively.
The first discovery of antimatter was in 1932, when Hans Geiger and Ernest Marsden performed experiments with alpha particles and gamma radiation, discovering that it behaves differently from normal particles and emits gamma rays instead.
Since then, physicists have found evidence for other particle species behaving completely different from usual matter.
For example, there’s no known mechanism to explain why negatively charged quarks are always paired up to make positively charged protons and neutrons.
Physicists believe that, if matter were composed of the same sort of particles, protons would always weigh more than neutrons.
If we measured the masses of electrons, neutrinos, protons, and neutrons, we would see that they don’t add up to the total atomic weight of a nucleus.
The discovery of antimatter has broad implications for physics and cosmology.
It suggests the possibility, for example, of creating fusion reactors that harness energy without nuclear waste, and it offers another perspective on dark matter.
Where Is Antimatter Found In Our Universe?
Antimatter exists everywhere in the universe. Scientists believe that it is created during the Big Bang explosion.
They also believe that antimatter particles annihilate each other after they collide. This happens at very high speeds and energy levels.
When two anti-protons collided, one proton was converted into an electron and a neutrino or antineutrino plus the energy needed to create more protons.
The rest of the process would have been almost impossible for humans to observe because when two antiparticles come together their total mass can go down from twice their sum to zero.
However, this process could be observed on Earth by using special detectors called spallation sources.
These are devices with atomic accelerators that produce large quantities of muons that decay to positrons.
Scientists are now investigating how antimatter might interact with ordinary matter — whether it’s possible to separate the different types of antimatter from normal ones, why there is so little antimatter around here (or anywhere), and what role it plays in the overall scheme of things.
“This research helps us better understand why we’re made out of matter rather than antimatter – but also why we live in such a world where antimatter doesn’t seem to be present,” said Dr. John Matthews, head of the science division of the University of Manchester’s School of Physics and Astronomy, who led the study.
“Our results suggest that, if antimatter had dominated the early Universe, then the Big Bang should have produced many more positrons than is seen today.
Instead, only about 10% of the antiprotons should have survived to form stars.
We need to find out more about how long antimatter remains stable, and if some processes involving them are indeed responsible for the small amount of antimatter in the Universe.”
Scientists say that most of the antiprotons in the Milky Way are formed in cosmic rays hitting the atmosphere before being trapped inside a magnetic field.
The remaining population comes from collisions between antihydrogen atoms and antiprotons from radioactive elements found all over space.
They get recycled again and again.
The oldest stars in our Galaxy contain up to 70 billion times more antihydrogen—a quantity comparable to the number of antiprotons in the entire Milky Way galaxy.
Although our Sun cannot produce enough antiprotons to account for these huge amounts of antihydrogen, researchers think that young stars and supernovas could contribute significantly to their abundance in galaxies like ours.
Why Do Scientists Want To Know More About Antimatter?
Antiparticles are the simplest examples of matter and antimatter.
Finding antimatter, therefore, would provide the only unambiguous test for models that predict such quantities to be equal.
More specifically, if we find that the observed ratio of matter to antimatter exceeds the predictions of standard Big Bang Theory, we will have strong support for the idea that ordinary matter and antimatter annihilate each other in the early exotic forms of elementary matter; thus, by studying them, we gain insight into more complex objects that may exist elsewhere in the Cosmos.
Moreover, this knowledge can help us address outstanding questions in astrophysics.
The problem of finding an explanation for the excess of baryonic matter over antibaryonic matter in the universe is one of the main unsolved problems in modern cosmology.
This question has been approached using several methods: measuring the abundances of light nuclei, looking at the behavior of relic photons after recombination, and searching for signs of annihilation or decay products.
However, none of these approaches allows for absolute conclusions regarding the relative abundances.
Matter Over Antimatter?
So why did matter come to be the dominant force in our universe?
There is a theory that states that at the beginning of the universe, more matter was created than antimatter.
This meant that even after periods of mutual destruction, matter remained.
This matter then formed life as we know it from the stars themselves, vast galaxies, and even the planet we call home.
How Much Antimatter Have Humans Created? Is It Dangerous?
Antimatter is indeed potentially incredibly dangerous.
Only a gram of antimatter is enough to produce a nuclear bomb-sized explosion, how crazy is that?
There are issues with the potential storage efficiency due to the insanely large energy demands, which make it impractical with current technologies.
The costs of such a potential setup are also so incredibly vast, the number would sound made up!
Are humans making antimatter, and should we be worried, knowing humanity’s inclination for destruction?
Fortunately, no mad scientists are currently able to produce any unsavory antimatter-matter annihilations, so we can rest easy for now.
Let’s look at how much and where humans have so far created measurable levels of antimatter.
Combining the particle accelerators at CERN in Switzerland, DESY in Germany, and Fermilab’s Tevatron, you have a total of around 18 nanograms of antimatter created.
That’s not even enough to make a cup of instant noodles or drink a hot coffee!
Antimatter is a fascinating subject that’s tied to the fabric of the universe, and as such, to ourselves.
As technological advancements catch up with brilliant minds, we are sure to continue to discover more about antimatter and its potential as we move forward into the future.
Antimatter has the potential to greatly aid humanity in the future, or destroy it (doomsday scenario!), so I, for one, will be keeping an eye out for any discoveries in this field!
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