Sunday, August 7, 2011

Antimatter Probe

Image of Antimatter

The first time my knowledge was challenged with Antimatter was when I read the novel "Angels and Demons", written by Dan Brown. I know nothing of its existence even until then. I thought it was just a figment of the author's imagination. Little did I know that it's for real.

What is Antimatter?

Antimatter, to make it simple, is described as sub-atomic particles with properties opposite those of normal matter particles; also have normal gravity.

In 1928, English Physicist, Paul Dirac has put forth the idea of the existence of antiparticles which confirmed in experiments by American Physicist Carl Anderson in 1932. Dirac derived equations which would work for an electron with a negative charge and an electron with a positive charge - an antiparticle. 

Antimatter And Its Dangers

Theoretically speaking, the Universe should contain an equal amount of antimatter as normal matter but we cannot observe any large quantities of antimatter to begin with. Scientists aren't sure why antimatter is rare in today's universe. 

Antimatter has been very difficult to handle because matter and antimatter don't get on, destroying each other instantly on contact in a violent flash of energy. Antimatter can be dangerous if found in large quantities, via annihilation. However, it is so rare, at least, in this part of the Universe - small quantities available do not present any danger at all. In this world, it can be found at big accelerator facilities, such as CERN in Switzerland or in deep outer space.

Antimatter trapped for over 15 mins by CERN Scientists

So now, if each type of particle has its own antiparticle and if we are surrounded with matter, where did all the antimatter go?

The Use Of Antimatter

Antimatter is currently used for Positron Emission Tomography (PET). The positrons are antimatter. This is highly beneficial for located cancer sites in the body. It can also be used to monitor brain activity and to measure certain material properties  important for polymers and material damage.

Antimatter Explained in Kids' Language

Antimatter is a 'mirror of the Universe' or a 'mirror image of matter'. Let's put it this way: Look at yourself in the mirror. What if your image in the mirror really exists? Then that image exists somewhere - it would be called an 'antiyou'. Physicists even imagined that somewhere far away there could be a world that looks just like our own, or rather like the mirror image of it. It would be an antiworld with antistars, antisuns, antiwater, all made of ANTIMATTER!

Antimatter Belt Around Earth Discovered 

BBC News: August 7, 2011, For the first time, the Payload for Antimatter Matter Exploration and Light-nuclei Astrophysics or PAMELA spotted a thin band of antimatter particles called antiprotons enveloping the Earth. PAMELA was launched in 2006 to study the nature of high-energy particles from the Sun and from beyond our Solar System - so-called cosmic rays. Read more...

Related Stories:

Antimatter Factory On Sun Yields Clues to Solar Explosions
Antimatter Trapped For Over 15 Minutes By CERN Scientists
Top 10 Things You Didn't Know About Antimatter

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