Meaning of Antimatter
If you’re a fan of science, you may have come across another word antimatter . This may confuse you if you are familiar with the meaning of the prefix “ anti ”.
Could there really be something in the universe that is the opposite of what makes us up and everything around us?
That is exactly what antimatter is! It is the opposite of regular matter. Regular matter is made up of regular atoms . Regular atoms are made up of regular subatomic particles , such as protons, neutrons, and electrons.
Antimatter, on the other hand, is made up of subatomic particles that have the opposite charge and spin of regular subatomic particles.
For example, antielectrons , also known as positrons, behave just like electrons, except they have a positive charge. Similarly, antiprotons have a negative charge but act like protons.
Where is the antimatter
We encounter regular matter every day, but where is the antimatter? Scientists believe that it was created along with regular matter just after the beginning of the universe. However, it is rare in the modern universe, and scientists don’t know why.
Scientists today can create antimatter . Using particle accelerators, such as the Large Hadron Collider on Europa, scientists can cause atoms to collide at extremely high speeds, resulting in the creation of antimatter particles .
Particle decelerators can also be used to capture and slow down antimatter particles for in-depth study by scientists.
Tiny bits of antimatter surround us most of the time. For example, cosmic rays from outer space bring antimatter particles into Earth’s atmosphere on a regular and continuous basis.
There are also other sources of occasional positrons : bananas and you! Both bananas and humans contain trace amounts of potassium-40, which is a naturally occurring isotope of potassium .
As it decays, it emits a positron from time to time.
If you’re eating a banana, are you likely to see a positron from time to time? Nope! First of all, subatomic antimatter particles are too small for our eyes to see.
The other main reason is that antimatter particles have an extremely short lifespan. As soon as an antimatter particle encounters a regular matter particle, the two particles annihilate each other and release energy.
Properties of Antimatter
Science fiction works have used this property of antimatter to suggest that future spacecraft could be powered by antimatter .
Its combination with regular matter could produce enormous amounts of energy. For example, one gram of antimatter could cause an explosion similar to a nuclear bomb.
Are spaceships with antimatter just a fantasy? Maybe not!
Scientists are studying possible ways to harness and use the energy created by antimatter . The problem today is that antimatter is extremely expensive to produce, and to date scientists have only been able to create a small amount of antimatter.
Scientists estimate that creating and storing one gram of antimatter would cost more than a trillion dollars and require about 25 million kilowatt-hours of energy.
Until now, all the antimatter created in all the particle accelerators on Earth would not be enough to boil a cup of water.