Ordinary matter has negatively charged electrons circling a positively chargednuclei. Anti-matter however has positively charged electrons – positrons -orbiting a nuclei with a negative charge – anti-protons. Only anti-protons andpositrons are able to be produced at this time, but scientists in Switzerlandhave begun a series of experiments which they believe will lead to the creationof the first anti-matter element — Anti-Hydrogen. (Encarta 99) The ResearchEarly scientists often made two mistakes about anti-matter. Some thought it hada negative mass, and would thus feel gravity as a push rather than a pull.
Ifthis were so, the antiproton’s negative mass/energy would cancel the proton’swhen they met and nothing would remain; in reality, two extremely high-energygamma photons are produced. Today’s theories of the universe say that there isno such thing as a negative mass. (Encarta 99) The second and more subtlemistake is the idea that anti-water would only annihilate with ordinary water,and could safety be kept in (say) an iron container. This is not so: it is thesubatomic particles that react so destructively, and their arrangement makes nodifference. Scientists at CERN in Geneva are working on a device called the LEAR(low energy anti-proton ring) they are attempting to slow the velocity of theanti-protons to a billionth of their normal speeds. The slowing of theanti-protons and positrons, which normally travel at a velocity near the speedof light, is necessary so that they have a chance of meeting and combining intoanti-hydrogen. The problems with research in the field of anti-matter is thatwhen the anti-matter elements touch matter elements they annihilate each other.
The total combined mass of both elements are released in a spectacular blast ofenergy. Electrons and positrons come together and vanish into high-energy gammarays (along with a certain number of harmless neutrinos, which pass throughwhole planets without effect). Hitting ordinary matter, 1 kg of anti-matterexplodes with the force of up to 43 million tons of TNT – as though severalthousand Hiroshima bombs were detonated at once. (Encarta 99) So how cananti-matter be stored? Outer space seems the only place, both for storage andfor large-scale production.
On Earth, gravity will sooner or later pull anyanti-matter into disastrous contact with matter. Anti-matter has the oppositeeffect of gravity on it, the anti-matter is ‘pushed away’ by the gravitationalforce due to its opposite nature to that of matter. A way around the gravityproblem appears at CERN, where fast moving anti-protons can be held in a’storage ring’ around which they constantly move – and kept away from the wallsof the vacuum chamber – by magnetic fields.
However, this only works for chargedparticles, it does not work for anti-neutrons, for example. The UnanswerableQuestion Though anti-matter can be slowly manufactured, natural anti-matter hasnever been found. In theory, we should expect equal amounts of matter andanti-matter to be formed at the beginning of the universe – perhaps some far offgalaxies are the made of anti-matter that somehow became separated from matterlong ago. A problem with the theory is that cosmic rays that reach Earth fromfar-off parts are often made up of protons or even nuclei, never of anti-protonsor antinuclei. There may be no natural anti-matter anywhere.
In that case, whathappened to it? The most obvious answer is that, as predicted by theory, all thematter and anti-matter underwent mutual annihilation in the first seconds ofcreation; but why there do we still have matter? It seems unlikely that morematter than anti-matter should be formed. In this scenario, the matter wouldhave to exceed the anti-matter by one part in 1000 million. An alternativetheory is produced by the physicist M. Goldhaber in 1956, is that the universedivided into two parts after its formation : the universe that we live in, andan alternate universe of anti-matter that cannot be observed by us. (Encarta 99)The Chemistry Though they have no charge, anti-neutrons differ from neutrons inhaving opposite ‘spin’ and ‘baryon number’.
All heavy particles, like protons orneutrons, are called baryons. A firm rule is that the total baryon number cannotchange, though this apparently fails inside black holes. A neutron (baryonnumber +1) can become a proton (baryon number +1) and an electron (baryon number0 since an electron is not a baryon but a light particle). The total electriccharge stays at zero and the total baryon number at +1. But a proton cannotsimply be annihilated. A proton and anti-proton (baryon number -1) can jointogether in an annihilation of both. (Galactic Positron Annihilation) The twoheavy particles meet in a flare of energy and vanish. Their mass is converted tohigh-energy radiation while their opposite charges and baryon numbers cancelout.
We can make antiprotons in the laboratory by turning this process round,using a particle accelerator to smash protons together at such enormous energiesthat the energy of collision is more than twice the mass/energy of a proton. Theresulting reaction is written: p + p p + p + p + p Two protons (p) become threeprotons plus an antiproton(p); the total baryon number before is: 1 + 1 = 2 Andafter the collision it is: 1 + 1 + 1 – 1 = 2 Still two. Anti-matter elementshave the same properties as matter properties. For example, two atoms ofanti-hydrogen and one atom of anti-oxygen would become anti-water. (GalacticPositron Annihilation) The Article The article I read about on the Internet,reflects on recent advancements in anti-matter research.
Scientists inSwitzerland have begun experimenting with a LEAR device which would slow theparticle velocity by a billionth of its original velocity. This is all done inan effort to slow the velocity to such a speed where it can combine chemicallywith positrons to form anti-hydrogen. (Galactic Positron Annihilation) Theauthor of the article, whose name was not included on the article, failed toinvestigate any other anti-matter research laboratories and their advancements.The author focused on the CERN research laboratory in Geneva.(Encarta 99) Thearticle also focused on the conniving into the discovering the anti-mattersecret, but did not mention much on the destruction and mayhem anti-matter wouldcause if not treated with the utmost care and safety. Discovering anti-mattercould mean the end of the Earth as we know it. One mistake could mean therelease of high-energy gamma rays that could wipe out the life on earth in mereminutes.(Encarta 99) It was a quite interesting article, with a lot ofinformation that could affect all of humanity.
The article, however, did notaddress on the advantages or disadvantages of anti-matter nor did it mention thepractical uses of anti-matter. They are too expensive to use for powering rocketships, and are not safe for household or industrial use, therefore having nomeaning to the general public. It is simply a race to see who can make the firstanti-matter element.
(Galactic Positron Annihilation) Conclusion As researchcontinues into the field of anti-matter there might be some very interesting andpractical uses of anti-matter in the future of society. Until there is apractical use, this is barely an attempt to prove which research lab will be thefirst to manufacture the anti-matter elements.BibliographyEncarta 1999, Articles on Matter and Anti-Matter Galactic PositronAnnihilation, http://www.astro.nwu.edu/astro/purcell/511kev/mcgraw.htmlScience