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Old 2005-01-12, 06:43   #1
ixfd64
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Default anti-matter weapons - possible reality?

Is this the first post, or has someone already beaten me to it?

Anyways, I've heard in recent news that the Air Force is pursuing anti-matter weapons.

Now, compared to other research, we have only done a little bit of research in this matter (no pun intended). In my opinion, we won't have anti-matter weapons for a very long time.

What do you think?
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Old 2005-01-12, 11:17   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ixfd64
Is this the first post, or has someone already beaten me to it?

Anyways, I've heard in recent news that the Air Force is pursuing anti-matter weapons.

Now, compared to other research, we have only done a little bit of research in this matter (no pun intended). In my opinion, we won't have anti-matter weapons for a very long time.

What do you think?
I think you're largely correct if by "anti-matter weapons" you mean using macroscopic quantities of anti-matter. For the time being, we know of no efficient way of producing anti-matter and know of nowhere it can be mined. At the moment, anti-matter is a very expensive and inefficient way of storing energy.

On the other hand, anti-matter is already widely used in small quantities. Google for PET or "positron emission tomography" for one application.

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Old 2005-01-12, 15:30   #3
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I don't think a PET scan uses antimatter directly. It merely monitors and analyzes the reaction produced by the bombardment of electrons into positrons. This produced gamma radiation which the PET scan can pick up to diagnose metabolic related issues.
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Old 2005-01-12, 15:42   #4
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What I can remember from my physics class, is that we don't know how to convert matter and antimatter into energy and back. We know it happens in nature all the time, but we don't have a control over it.


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Old 2005-01-12, 20:10   #5
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AFAIK, it's already possible to create anti-matter - but only in very small quantities. I think 100 anti-atoms are already much.

I've read that it would take a long time (was it decades?) to fabricate enough anti-matter for a flight to Mars.

btw.:
Converting matter and anti-matter into energy is no problem - only if you don't want all the energy at once...
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Old 2005-01-12, 20:17   #6
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It is not just the atoms that are of intrest. CERN and many other 'atom smashers' can handle anti-particle beams.
But dragging around a cyclotron sort cramps the style of special ops forces.

Metastable Helium would make a nice weapon, if only it weren't so unstable.

Last fiddled with by Uncwilly on 2005-01-12 at 20:19
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Old 2005-01-12, 22:41   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncwilly
CERN and many other 'atom smashers' can handle anti-particle beams.
But dragging around a cyclotron sort cramps the style of special ops forces.
Which is why the military would initiate research into developing some container and transport system to take the little "anti"s from their birthplace to the battlefield, of course.

You don't see troops dragging around munitions factories to make artillery shells or mines right on the battlefield, do you? Well -- same principle for antimatter weapons.
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Old 2005-01-12, 23:16   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheesehead
Which is why the military would initiate research into developing some container and transport system to take the little "anti"s from their birthplace to the battlefield, of course.
The mag fields that are used to keep the beam as a loop are the current best "container". It is feasable to keep the the anti-protons on the track and in motion. Slowing them down and putting them into something the size of a truck is a bit of a trick....

Nuetral anti-atoms are even harder to keep where you want. Creating an anti-ion would mean you would either need to create anti-helium (minimum of 4 anti-particals, with one being an anti-nuetron [which is another problem]) or an anti-metal (in the astronomical sense). Creating whole anti-molecules or complex anti-ions (like NH4+ or OH-) just makes the problem ever harder.

Anti-protons is currently the most "practical" way to have have much antimatter. The other option would be to take a huge group of radionuclides that decay and give off positrons (which is not practical).
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Old 2005-01-13, 02:24   #9
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Wouldn't nuclear fusion be better?
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Old 2005-01-13, 04:08   #10
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what really needs to be done is fuel cells ultimate clean.... in goes hydgron out comes water and electricity.... can anyone say cars with sinks
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Old 2005-01-13, 10:42   #11
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I think we have been focusing on talking about the creation of antimatter so much that we forget one small thing. Even if we can create it, we can't keep it anywhere because antimatter doesn't last long enough to be put anywhere. Second of all, if we could get antimatter to stay around for long enough to use it, we don't have a way to contain it without it annihilating itself on contact with normal matter or the other possibility, which is horrible, and that is a giant explosion wiping out almost everything. Antimatter energy, which has been mentioned, is a very dangerous thing unless you can manage it.
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