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Anti-Matter Essay Examples



Ordinary  matter  has  negatively  charged  electrons
circling  a  positively  charged  nuclei.  Anti-matter   has
positively charged electrons – positrons – orbiting a nuclei
with  a  negative charge – anti-protons.  Only  anti-protons
and  positrons  are able to be produced at  this  time,  but
scientists in Switzerland have begun a series of experiments
which  they believe will lead to the creation of  the  first
anti-matter element — Anti-Hydrogen.

The Research

Early  scientists often made two mistakes about  anti-
matter.  Some thought it had a negative mass, and would thus
feel gravity as a push rather than a pull.  If this were so,
the  antiproton’s  negative  mass/energy  would  cancel  the
proton’s when they met and nothing would remain; in reality,
two   extremely  high-energy  gamma  photons  are  produced.
Today’s  theories of the universe say that there is no  such
thing as a negative mass.

The  second and more subtle mistake 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  the  subatomic  particles  that  react  so
destructively, and their arrangement makes no difference.

Scientists at CERN in Geneva are working on  a  device
called  the LEAR (low energy anti-proton ring) in an attempt
to  slow the velocity of the anti-protons to a billionth  of
their  normal  speeds.  The slowing of the anti-protons  and
positrons, which normally travel at a velocity of that  near
the  speed of light, is neccesary so that they have a chance
of meeting and combining into anti-hydrogen.1

The problems with research in the field of anti-matter
is  that when the anti-matter elements touch matter elements
they annihilate each other.  The total combined mass of both
elements  are  released in a spectacular  blast  of  energy.
Electrons and positrons come together and vanish into  high-
energy  gamma  rays  (plus  a  certain  number  of  harmless
neutrinos, which pass through whole planets without effect).
Hitting  ordinary matter, 1 kg of anti-matter explodes  with
the  force  of  up  to 43 million tons of TNT  –  as  though
several thousand Hiroshima bombs were detonated at once.

So how can anti-matter be stored? Space seems the only
place, both for storage and for large-scale production.   On
Earth,  gravity  will sooner or later pull  any  anti-matter
into  disastrous contact with matter.  Anti-matter  has  the
opposite effect of gravity on it, the anti-matter is ‘pushed
away’  by the gravitational force due to its opposite nature
to that of matter.  A way around the gravity problem 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  walls of the vacuum chamber –  by  magnetic
fields.  However, this only works for charged particles,  it
does not work for anti-neutrons, for example.

The Unanswerable Question

Though anti-matter can be manufactured, slowly, natural
anti-matter  has  never been found.  In  theory,  we  should
expect  equal amounts of matter and anti-matter to be formed
at  the  beginning of the universe – perhaps  some  far  off
galaxies  are  the made of anti-matter that  somehow  became
separated  from matter long ago.  A problem with the  theory
is  that cosmic rays that reach Earth from far-off parts are
often  made  up  of protons or even nuclei, never  of  anti-
protons  or antinuclei.  There may be no natural anti-matter

In  that case, what happened to it?  The most  obvious
answer  is that, as predicted by theory, all the matter  and
anti-matter  underwent  mutual  annihilation  in  the  first
seconds  of creation; but why there do we still have matter?
It  seems unlikely that more matter than anti-matter  should
be  formed.   In  this scenario, the matter  would  have  to
exceed the anti-matter by one part in 1000 million.

An alternative theory is produced by the physicist  M.
Goldhaber  in  1956, is that the universe divided  into  two
parts  after its formation – the universe that we  live  in,
and  an  alternate universe of anti-matter  that  cannot  be
observed by us.

The Chemistry

Though they have no charge, anti-neutrons differ  from
neutrons in having opposite ‘spin’ and ‘baryon number’.  All
heavy  particles,  like  protons  or  neutrons,  are  called
baryons.  A firm rule is that the total baryon number cannot
change, though this apparently fails inside black holes.   A
neutron  (baryon  number  +1) can become  a  proton  (baryon
number  +1)  and  an  electron (baryon  number  0  since  an
electron  is not a baryon but a light particle).  The  total
electric charge stays at zero and the total baryon number at
+1.  But a proton cannot simply be annihilated.

A  proton and anti-proton (baryon number -1) can  join
together  in  an  annihilation  of  both.   The  two   heavy
particles  meet in a flare of energy and vanish, their  mass
converted  to  high-energy  radiation  wile  their  opposite
charges  and  baryon  numbers  cancel  out.   We  can   make
antiprotons in the laboratory by turning this process round,
using  a  particle accelerator to smash protons together  at
such  enormous energies that the energy of collision is more
than  twice  the  mass/energy of a  proton.   The  resulting
reaction is written:

p + p              p + p + p
+ p

Two   protons  (p)  become  three  protons  plus   an
antiproton(p); the total baryon number before is:
1 + 1 = 2
And after the collision it is:
1 + 1 + 1 – 1 =  2
Still two.

Anti-matter elements have the same properties as matter
properties.  For example, two atoms of anti-hydrogen and one
atom of anti-oxygen would become anti-water.

The Article

The article chosen reflects on recent advancements  in
anti-matter research.  Scientists in Switzerland have  begun
experimenting  with  a LEAR device (low  energy  anti-proton
ring)  which would slow the particle velocity by a billionth
of  its original velocity.  This is all done in an effort to
slow  the  velocity  to such a speed where  it  can  combine
chemically with positrons to form anti-hydrogen.

The author of the article, whose name was not included
on  the  article,  failed to investigate  other  anti-matter
research  laboratories and their advancements.   The  author
focused  on  the  CERN research laboratory in  Geneva.  ‘The
intriguing thing about our work is that it flies in the face
of all other current developments in particle physics’ .2

The  article  also  focused on the intrigue  into  the
discovering the anti-matter secret, but did not mention much
on the destruction and mayhem anti-matter would cause if not
treated with the utmost care and safety.  Discovering  anti-
matter  could mean the end of the Earth as we know  it,  one
mistake  could mean the end of the world and  a  release  of
high-energy gamma rays that could wipe out the life on earth
in mere minutes.

It  was  a quite interesting article, with  a  lot  of
information  that  could  affect  the  entire  world.    The
article,   however,  did  not  focus  on  the  benefits   or
disadvantages  of  anti-matter  nor  did  it   mention   the
practical  uses of anti-matter.  They are too  expensive  to
use  for  powering  rocket  ships,  and  are  not  safe  for
household  or  industrial use, so have  no  meaning  to  the
general public.  It is merely a race to see who can make the
first anti-matter element.


As  research  continues into the field of  anti-matter
there  might be some very interesting and practical uses  of
anti-matter in the society of the future.  Until there is  a
practical  use,  this is merely an attempt  to  prove  which
research  lab  will  be the first to manufacture  the  anti-
matter elements.

Swiss boldly poised to produce anti-matter – John Eades,
researcher at CERN

Swiss  boldly  poised  to produce anti-matter  –  John  Eades,
researcher at CERN

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