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Thread: Antimatter generation

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    Antimatter generation

    Presently, our ability to make antimatter is severely limited, a few particles at a time. I know there are methods proposed to mine small amounts of antimatter from planetary magnetospheres, but how about manufacturing it? Are there possible means for producing antimatter at higher rates than we do today, perhaps enough to expend on some practical uses?
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    Unfortunately I donít think there are. The problem isnít so much the production, because it is even produced by natural processes like beta decay, lightning and cosmic rays. The problem is isolating it from matter, and that is really tough. You need a vacuum and a magnetic field to stop the antimatter from coming in contact with the container. So getting the antimatter from the production into storage is really tough.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    Unfortunately I don’t think there are. The problem isn’t so much the production, because it is even produced by natural processes like beta decay, lightning and cosmic rays. The problem is isolating it from matter, and that is really tough. You need a vacuum and a magnetic field to stop the antimatter from coming in contact with the container. So getting the antimatter from the production into storage is really tough.
    And the magnetic field only works if you are dealing with charged particles, rather than atoms. Even then it doesn't work very well.

    I'm not even sure what the uses of larger amounts of antimatter would be.

    Also, to generate 1 gram of antimatter would require roughly the energy of a 20 kiloton nuclear bomb. Not sure how practical that is.
    Last edited by Strange; 2019-May-19 at 10:15 AM. Reason: typo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    Also, to generate 1 ram of antimatter would require roughly the energy of a 20 kiloton nuclear bomb. Not sure how practical that is.
    At present efficiencies, yes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    At present efficiencies, yes.
    That is assuming 100% efficiency.

    Actually, it might be assuming 200% efficiency, because I don't think you can generate antimatter without generating an equal amount of matter.

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    Here's a paper from 2006 that suggests ways of optimising antimatter production, with a view to manufacturing weapons.
    https://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0507125
    I incorporated this method into my fictional 'amat farm' article for Orion's Arm;
    https://www.orionsarm.com/eg-article/45f0c79d13c29
    The 'amat farm' concept collects sunlight near the Sun (the farms are manufactured from materials mined on Mercury) and generates antimatter using that energy. Given an area of farms as big as Texas, and an efficiency of a fraction of a percent, you can produce tens of grams of antimatter per year. Make the farms bigger, increase the efficiency, and move the farms closer to the Sun, and you could make much more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    That is assuming 100% efficiency.
    D'oh!
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    Quote Originally Posted by eburacum45 View Post
    Here's a paper from 2006 that suggests ways of optimising antimatter production, with a view to manufacturing weapons.
    https://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0507125
    I incorporated this method into my fictional 'amat farm' article for Orion's Arm;
    https://www.orionsarm.com/eg-article/45f0c79d13c29
    The 'amat farm' concept collects sunlight near the Sun (the farms are manufactured from materials mined on Mercury) and generates antimatter using that energy. Given an area of farms as big as Texas, and an efficiency of a fraction of a percent, you can produce tens of grams of antimatter per year. Make the farms bigger, increase the efficiency, and move the farms closer to the Sun, and you could make much more.
    OK, thanks. Useful stuff.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    That is assuming 100% efficiency.

    Actually, it might be assuming 200% efficiency, because I don't think you can generate antimatter without generating an equal amount of matter.
    Strange. Yep. There is nothing in the history of particle physics that indicates an asymmetry in the production of matter over antimatter, or vice versa. Finding such a reaction would explain the presently observed excess of matter over antimatter in the known universe. Since we estimate the total number of protons in the universe, to be around 1082......the excess we are made of.....remains one of the outstanding unresolved issues in cosmology. Nobody can explain how we came to be from a Big Bang scenario....of energy.
    A slight excess seen in B-meson factories, within experimental variations, does not explain the enormous baryon asymmetry.....why we, and the universe exist
    pete

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    I'm not even sure what the uses of larger amounts of antimatter would be.
    Things that required extremely concentrated energy, such as spacecraft propulsion, especially interstellar vessels.

    Also, to generate 1 gram of antimatter would require roughly the energy of a 20 kiloton nuclear bomb. Not sure how practical that is.
    Which means it contains 20 kt equivalent of energy. Lots of bang for your buck. So to speak.
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    Quote Originally Posted by trinitree88 View Post
    Strange. Yep. There is nothing in the history of particle physics that indicates an asymmetry in the production of matter over antimatter, or vice versa. Finding such a reaction would explain the presently observed excess of matter over antimatter in the known universe. Since we estimate the total number of protons in the universe, to be around 1082......the excess we are made of.....remains one of the outstanding unresolved issues in cosmology. Nobody can explain how we came to be from a Big Bang scenario....of energy.
    A slight excess seen in B-meson factories, within experimental variations, does not explain the enormous baryon asymmetry.....why we, and the universe exist
    pete
    And even if we understood this asymmetry and could somehow exploit it, it would imply we can create more matter than antimatter - the opposite of what is desired!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    And even if we understood this asymmetry and could somehow exploit it, it would imply we can create more matter than antimatter - the opposite of what is desired!
    Any way to keep the new pairs apart to prevent annihilation? (For some strange reason I'm thinking of my sister's divorce now)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Any way to keep the new pairs apart to prevent annihilation? (For some strange reason I'm thinking of my sister's divorce now)
    What we do now: electromagnetic containment. The fact that antiparticles have opposite charges actually comes in pretty handy for separating them.
    Conserve energy. Commute with the Hamiltonian.

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    So we get 50% efficiency maximum? Bleah.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    So we get 50% efficiency maximum? Bleah.
    And that's the theoretical maximum. We'd have a long way to go to even get there. I believe the current actual efficiency in particle accelerators is a small fraction of a percent.
    Conserve energy. Commute with the Hamiltonian.

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    Quote Originally Posted by trinitree88 View Post
    Strange. Yep. There is nothing in the history of particle physics that indicates an asymmetry in the production of matter over antimatter, or vice versa. Finding such a reaction would explain the presently observed excess of matter over antimatter in the known universe. Since we estimate the total number of protons in the universe, to be around 1082......the excess we are made of.....remains one of the outstanding unresolved issues in cosmology. Nobody can explain how we came to be from a Big Bang scenario....of energy. A slight excess seen in B-meson factories, within experimental variations, does not explain the enormous baryon asymmetry.....why we, and the universe exist
    Maybe it's being pedantic, but claiming "No one can explain" sounds like an absolute claim that no can nor ever will explain... I believe that goes against what theories are and how science works. There is at least one such non-mainstream (as in not (yet?) widely accepted) explanation. I believe that several different teams are working on experiments to determine the validity of that explanation. However, I am not presenting that explanation here, where only mainstream dogma is acceptable. Instead, I'll just suggest rewording the above statement to say "No mainstream theory currently explains...".
    Depending on whom you ask, everything is relative.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grey View Post
    And that's the theoretical maximum. We'd have a long way to go to even get there. I believe the current actual efficiency in particle accelerators is a small fraction of a percent.
    I'll throw out the old saw: "The accelerators were designed by physicists, not engineers". Which of course is not literally true, engineers were deeply involved in making them a reality, but I believe what the saying means is that maximizing antimatter output efficiently is not what particle accelerators of today were built for. Still, it seems like the consensus here is, we'll never have "antimatter factories". :/

    Ah, well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mkline55 View Post
    Maybe it's being pedantic, but claiming "No one can explain" sounds like an absolute claim that no can nor ever will explain... I believe that goes against what theories are and how science works. There is at least one such non-mainstream (as in not (yet?) widely accepted) explanation. I believe that several different teams are working on experiments to determine the validity of that explanation. However, I am not presenting that explanation here, where only mainstream dogma is acceptable. Instead, I'll just suggest rewording the above statement to say "No mainstream theory currently explains...".
    "Dogma" = Consistent with extensive, repeatable tests and observations
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    "Dogma" = Consistent with extensive, repeatable tests and observations
    or

    Dogma "a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true."
    Depending on whom you ask, everything is relative.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mkline55 View Post
    or

    Dogma "a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true."
    God thing mainstream science isn't that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Still, it seems like the consensus here is, we'll never have "antimatter factories". :/
    Never is an exceeding long period of time. But I suspect we won't be anywhere close to the technology of making lots of antimatter till we get to the level of moving asteroids around, making Dyson spheres, and terraforming planets.

    Heck, we don't have the technology to convert the energy of a 20 kiloton nuclear bomb into matter, let alone antimatter.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    Never is an exceeding long period of time. But I suspect we won't be anywhere close to the technology of making lots of antimatter till we get to the level of moving asteroids around, making Dyson spheres, and terraforming planets.
    We could move asteroids around using present day technology. We just wouldn't have much choice about where they moved to, or in how many pieces...
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    PET scans produce/utilize positrons effectively, but I believe the total mass produced is extremely small, and being positrons, they would be difficult to accumulate together in any large quantity.
    Depending on whom you ask, everything is relative.

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    Another possibility is the collection of natural populations of antimatter particles from high-energy environments. Apparently the magnetic fields of Jupiter and Saturn might be good places to look; I expect that the Sun might be an even more fruitful location, but there are some problems associated with sailing too close to the Sun.
    http://www.centauri-dreams.org/wp-co...d_Phase_II.pdf

    and of course;
    https://www.orionsarm.com/eg-article/4ba0f009dffe1

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    And even if we understood this asymmetry and could somehow exploit it, it would imply we can create more matter than antimatter - the opposite of what is desired!
    Seriously, if we understood this asymmetry, we might be able to force it the other way and both produce more antiparticles, and lose fewer of them to encounters with unwanted matter particles. Maybe we could even convince normal matter to self-annihilate. Who needs Mr. Fusion?

    Unfortunately, about the only thing we understand about it is that what we do understand (and keep confirming with test after test) doesn't explain it. Kind of annoying.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eburacum45 View Post
    Another possibility is the collection of natural populations of antimatter particles from high-energy environments. Apparently the magnetic fields of Jupiter and Saturn might be good places to look; I expect that the Sun might be an even more fruitful location, but there are some problems associated with sailing too close to the Sun.
    http://www.centauri-dreams.org/wp-co...d_Phase_II.pdf

    and of course;
    https://www.orionsarm.com/eg-article/4ba0f009dffe1
    eburacum45. Yep, and you can collect a little bit during everyday lightning storms....SEE https://newatlas.com/lightning-gamma...imatter/52312/

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    Someone needs to invent a diode that keeps the matter on one side, and the antimatter on the other side. It'd probably have too high a back voltage to be useful.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Squink View Post
    Someone needs to invent a diode that keeps the matter on one side, and the antimatter on the other side. It'd probably have too high a back voltage to be useful.
    Another issue is that unless you in a vacuum, there are going to be other electrons on both sides of the diode, with unfortunate consequences for the poor positron.
    As above, so below

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    If it were easy, we wouldn't be bothering to research fusion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Squink View Post
    Someone needs to invent a diode that keeps the matter on one side, and the antimatter on the other side. It'd probably have too high a back voltage to be useful.
    I wonder if the universe itself may have done that.

    True, during the Big Bang--it was both space and matter that exploded everywhere, but space and matter decoupled, with the result being that the early physical universe did have a shape--the after-image we see as the cosmic background perhaps.

    Well, I've seen supernovae that seem to have lobes.

    Maybe the anti-matter universe is a lobe beyond our light horizon?

    If so, maybe cosmology itself may solve anti-matter separation--or vice versa.

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