Roundup At The Antimatter Corral


You know, I’m all for the advancement of physics research, but there’s a reason antimatter doesn’t exist in nature. It annihilates an equal amount of matter on contact and releases incredible amounts of energy.

Antimatter held for questioning

For physicists, a bit of antimatter is a precious gift indeed. By comparing matter to its counterpart, they can test fundamental symmetries that lie at the heart of the standard model of particle physics, and look for hints of new physics beyond. Yet few gifts are as tricky to wrap. Bring a particle of antimatter into contact with its matter counterpart and the two annihilate in a flash of energy.

Now a research collaboration at CERN, Europe’s particle-physics lab near Geneva, Switzerland, has managed, 38 times, to confine single antihydrogen atoms in a magnetic trap for more than 170 milliseconds. The group reported the result in Nature online on 17 November1. “We’re ecstatic. This is five years of hard work,” says Jeffrey Hangst, spokesman for the ALPHA collaboration at CERN.

An antihydrogen atom is made from a negatively charged antiproton and a positively charged positron, the antimatter counterpart of the electron. The objective — both for ALPHA and for a competing CERN experiment called ATRAP — is to compare the energy levels in antihydrogen with those of hydrogen, to confirm that antimatter particles experience the same electromagnetic forces as matter particles, a key premise of the standard model. “The goal is to study antihydrogen and you can’t do it without trapping it,” says Cliff Surko, an antimatter researcher at the University of California, San Diego. “This is really a big deal.”

See also:
Scientists briefly trap a form of antimatter
Upping the Anti: CERN Physicists Trap Antimatter Atoms for the First Time
Antihydrogen trapped at CERN
Snagging Antimatter Atoms
Antimatter created, captured for the first time
Gotcha!
Breakthrough! Scientists Create and Capture Antimatter
‘Antimatter’ captured by CERN scientists in dramatic physics breakthrough
Anti-matter is finally trapped for an instant
Antimatter Trapped For the First Time
Antimatter atom trapped for first time, say scientists
Antimatter atoms caught at last
Scientists Hold Antimatter Captive — For Milliseconds
ALPHA – Antihydrogen Laser PHysics Apparatus
ATRAP – Antihydrogen TRAP
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC)
CERN

So far, they’re only dealing with 38 atoms and let’s hope the scale of the research stays small. However, if they can trap and hold a tiny amount of antimatter, eventually the technology could be developed to trap and hold larger quantities and then we could be in trouble if the technology ever fell into the hands of bad actors.

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 43 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).

/of course, there’s probably nothing to worry about, but still, they’re not playing with Tinkertoys here

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