At the risk of seeming Star Trek, we’re going to have a run at antimatter and where there might be a wee glimmer of an idea that some power might be useful someday.
A couple of pieces have been passed over lately that trigger the thought. The first comes from NASA where scientists using NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have detected beams of antimatter produced above thunderstorms on Earth, a phenomenon never seen before.
It looks pretty certain now that antimatter is for real, and is not a science fiction artifact.
The second was found by Vanessa D’Amico at UniverseToday.com where Massimo Villata, a scientist from the Observatory of Turin in Italy, proposes in a new study ( A free pdf download) that explores an alternative theory: the expansion of the universe is actually due to the relationship between matter and antimatter.
According to Villata, matter and antimatter gravitationally repel each other and create a kind of “antigravity” that could do away with the need for dark energy in the universe. Villata also implies that antimatter would have reversed charge polarity.
Experienced readers are having a “Oh wow” moment because if Villata is right then a lot of quantum mechanics is going to need a rework.
Now that competence is coming into play – there is a wholly real prospect that both dark energy and antimatter are facts of the universe, which ought to keep quantum mechanics intact.
In light of the antimatter visualization produced with sound principles used by NASA to illustrate images and the section of Villata’s work that does make eminent sense, antigravity is playing a role in the expansion of the universe.
Here is where the potential exists. We all understand that matter can be organized such that a positive and negative charge can be realized. One expects that the same would be true for antimatter.
The question is, should the opposites or the reverse charge potential of antimatter be true, then a proximity of matter and antimatter would set up a field to exploit. That would be a resource beyond the supposed antimatter gravity repulsive effect that might be in the simplest form harnessed by a piezoelectric device.
The catch, or what might be a catch centers on the CPT invariance. What’s that? Well, the ‘C’ stands for charge conjugation, ‘P’ stands for parity and ‘T’ stands for time, which are usually symmetric, but not always: such comes the invariance. For the vast most part the symmetry is consistent in nature. But enough examples exist to make CPT invariance real.
Keep in mind the CPT symmetry dominates, it’s the potential invariance that’s so attractive.
The fact of the matter and antimatter situation is we aren’t certain by experimentation that the gravitational behavior of antimatter is either attractive to or repulsed from regular matter. Also it’s an intuitive probability and hard to reason that antimatter wouldn’t be attractive to itself.
Which leads to the question, can a matter made human get his hands on antimatter and make use of it? One encouraging thought is that antimatter can form up on earth in a thunderstorm and not deliver a huge explosive planet shattering shockwave. Nor does it seem that a universe filled with the stuff has annihilated itself nor is there a stunning show of explosions eternally filling the sky.
Whether or not the electromagnetic potential of antimatter is reversed to matter is still a theory. The theory relies on CPT invariance working within the theory of general relativity. That’s two big questions.
As the facts stand today thunderstorms are making antimatter and the questions on how antimatter could be put to work are only causes for debate and discussion.
There remains a second catch: the antimatter positron particles that the Fermi spacecraft encountered collided with electrons in the spacecraft where the particles annihilated each other.
But a reversed charge from two kinds of matter could offer a truly elegant engineering answer to the production of energy. It’s finally time now to stop kicking the antimatter can down the road and pick it up to see what can be made of it.
We know where it can be caught, even how it’s made – let’s try the first step to catch a little!
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