Posts Tagged ‘bottles magnetic’
If you wondered why our military sponsors this research?
Once regarded as the stuff of science fiction, antimatter—the mirror image of the ordinary matter in our observable universe—is now the focus of laboratory studies around the world.
While physicists routinely produce antimatter with radioisotopes and particle colliders, cooling these antiparticles and containing them for any length of time is another story. Once antimatter comes into contact with ordinary matter it “annihilates”—or disappears in a flash of gamma radiation.
Clifford Surko, a professor of physics at UC San Diego who is constructing what he hopes will be the world’s largest antimatter container, said physicists have recently developed new methods to make special states of antimatter in which they can create large clouds of antiparticles, compress them and make specially tailored beams for a variety of uses…
Surko said that since “positrons”—the anti-electrons predicted by English physicist Paul Dirac some 80 years ago—disappear in a burst of gamma rays whenever they come in contact with ordinary matter, accumulating and storing these antimatter particles is no small feat. But over the past few years, he added, researchers have developed new techniques to store billions of positrons for hours or more and cool them to low temperatures in order to slow their movements so they can be studied.
Surko said physicists are now able to slow positrons from radioactive sources to low energy and accumulate and store them for days in specially designed ”bottles” that have magnetic and electric fields as walls rather than matter. They have also developed methods to cool them to temperatures as low as that of liquid helium and to compress
them to high densities.
“One can then carefully push them out of the bottle in a thin stream, a beam, much like squeezing a tube of toothpaste,” said Surko, adding that there are a variety of uses for such positrons…
Surko and his colleagues are building the world’s largest trap for low-energy positrons in his laboratory at UC San Diego, capable of storing more than a trillion antimatter particles at one time.
I have to chuckle over this research – since one of the other blogs where I’m an editor is the property of a pundit who denies the existence of antimatter.
“Denial” is a funny political quantity. The always-politically-correct Right Wing in America [for PC is their invention] has succeeded in appending the concept of skeptic to denial. It’s like putting an unrecovered alcoholic in charge of the advertising for your barroom because he can claim to have no problems with drink – that he would ever admit to. The word has no place in science; but, then, the pundits who espouse denial as emblematic of skepticism are generally too lazy to read more than a paragraph or two of a scientific study.
Non-scientists don’t realize the persistent conservatism, the need for repeated testing and verification for conclusions considered at least reasonable. I followed the discussion, tests and reviews followed by more discussion in the published papers of the Max Planck Institute for 2 years at the beginning of this millennium – on the question of climate change. It took that long for just one of the hundreds of peer institutes and research centers on Earth to come to the conclusions that grounded the IPCC Report – regardless of whatever politics follow those few pages around. The scenario was repeated inside each of those bodies and continues today.
And those who deny climate change, as some deny the existence of anti-matter and any number of revelatory advances in science will continue to base that denial on little or nothing of value. Much less scientific methods. Much less reading a report.