Anti-matter!Posted: January 13, 2011
The universe is made up of matter and anti-matter, but the world we exist in is predominantly matter which is confusing scientists around the world. The concept of anti-matter is quite simple, for every particle there is an anti-particle. The anti-particle has an opposite charge, so the “electrons” which usually have a negative charge are positively charged, and called “positrons”, same thing goes for protons – they are negatively charged in an anti-matter particle. When anti-matter collides with matter, they both annihilate each other and turn into intense radiation energy! Amazing. There is supposed to be equal amounts of anti-matter and matter but it is clear that most of what makes up life as we know it is matter. So where is all the anti-matter? Scientists have discovered some clouds of it in space through various experiments with balloons, but there is supposed to be an equal amount of each and it just doesn’t add up.
Scientists have created antimatter in the lab, the first time being over a decade ago, but they had a problem making it last more than a slight fraction of a second so they couldn’t really study it closely and there were still a lot of unanswered questions about it. But recently, in Switzerland, they have created anti-matter particles and have managed to capture them in a magnetic box which keeps them away from matter so they won’t be annihilated and they can study them further. This is a big breakthrough because it will give us more insight about the potential origin of the universe, the possibility of vast amounts of energy (star trek spaceship engine), a better understanding of physics and nature, and a better understanding of how anti-matter behaves.
Scientists have known for a while that high energy storms on earth create gamma rays, but they have just discovered that these gamma rays create antimatter beams that shoot out into space. These ‘Terrestrial Gamma Ray Flashes” happen an estimated 500 times per day, are extremely intense, and last for a thousandth of a second.
Steven Cummer, an atmospheric electricity researcher from Duke University in North Carolina, called the find “truly amazing”.
“I think this is one of the most exciting discoveries in the geosciences in quite a long time – the idea that any planet has thunderstorms that can create antimatter and then launch it into space in narrow beams that can be detected by orbiting spacecraft to me sounds like something straight out of science fiction,” he said.
“It has some very important implications for our understanding of lightning itself. We don’t really understand a lot of the detail about how lightning works. It’s a little bit premature to say what the implications of this are going to be going forward, but I’m very confident this is an important piece of the puzzle.”
Take a peek at some of the articles as this is truly fascinating stuff!