November 19, 2010
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Antimatter pegs my geek meter pretty hard, especially when it’s in the real world.
[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 magnetic trap was an octopole electromagnet that created a balance point for an atom that “has a more subtle magnetic character that arises from the spins of its constituent particles”. That applies to regular ol’ hydrogen too.
Granted, this isn’t very many atoms, and they aren’t the first to be created, but they lived the longest. Keep this up and we’ll be ready to start construction on the USS Enterprise 1701 in no time.
I won’t pretend to quite understand the spins and outs of creating antimatter, it is after all, rocket science, but the ability to trap antimatter, even as small and simple as antihydrogen, has enormous implications for energy applications. Stable storage of an energy source that packs a punch for it’s size. Of course the trick then is figuring a way to smooth out the energy-to-antimatter-to-energy curve and this will evolve into warp nacelles. Well, that and learning how to control energy release. No sense in having it happen all at once. In fact that could be rather bad in higher doses…
One thing that stands out to me is that; Given that when antimatter and ‘normal’ matter meet they cancel each other out releasing energy, their sustained existence does seem to demonstrate that gravity is indeed a quantum force and without a physical component.
This is a small step, but it’s significant to both quantum and relativist physics. And geeks…