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back to article Boffins create tabletop ANTIMATTER GUN

It generally takes a decent-sized particle accelerator to produce antimatter, but a team of physicists working at the University of Michigan says they've developed a table-top system that can create short bursts of positrons – anti-electrons. Their metre-long device creates electron-positron pairs by firing a petawatt laser at …

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"doesn't actually risk the earth-shattering kaboom of a matter-antimatter annihilation."

Oh, good grief!

The size of the bang depends entirely on how much anti-matter you have. Given it takes an inordinate amount of energy to generate a miniscule amount of antimatter then getting even a decent size 'pop' will probably bankrupt us.

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Facepalm

Re: "doesn't actually risk the earth-shattering kaboom of a matter-antimatter annihilation."

Sense of humour fail...

Please recalibrate your satire meter and try again...

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Re: "doesn't actually risk the earth-shattering kaboom of a matter-antimatter annihilation."

Or to put this another way, an antimatter reactor is unlikely to be feasible in the near future. =(

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Thumb Up

Re: "doesn't actually risk the earth-shattering kaboom of a matter-antimatter annihilation."

Indeed sir. Perhaps whimsy sensors also. Kudos to ElReg for the Marvin the Martian reference. One of the funniest cartoons ever.

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Trollface

Re: "doesn't actually risk the earth-shattering kaboom of a matter-antimatter annihilation."

Chemist, so what you are saying is, disappointingly, that I cannot nullify my boss?

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Re: "doesn't actually risk the earth-shattering kaboom of a matter-antimatter annihilation."

The laser itself would do a pretty good job of that...

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Re: "doesn't actually risk the earth-shattering kaboom of a matter-antimatter annihilation."

No news on a shark head mountable version yet then ?

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Re: "doesn't actually risk the earth-shattering kaboom of a matter-antimatter annihilation."

Given that it takes a lot more energy to make the antimatter than you get out of it annihilating, you're not likely to see an antimatter reactor ever.

If you have unlimited energy to spare, antimatter could make a very intense energy _store_, but it will never be an energy _source_. Coal and uranium work for that purpose because you can just dig them out of the ground - if you had to make them yourself first it would be a different story ;)

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Re: "doesn't actually risk the earth-shattering kaboom of a matter-antimatter annihilation."

"The laser itself would do a pretty good job of that..."

It's only 20J per pulse so the 'owners' say that it would give you a nasty burn which would likely make you jump out of the way of the next pulse.

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Coat

Re: "doesn't actually risk the earth-shattering kaboom of a matter-antimatter annihilation."

@Alan

Not sure your analogy stands up. According to the article there are naturally occuring sources of antimatter - all we have to do is build an interstellar starship to collect them and hey presto! Antimatter Reactor.

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Re: "doesn't actually risk the earth-shattering kaboom of a matter-antimatter annihilation."

"all we have to do is build an interstellar starship"

Oh, is that all. Driven by ?

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Re: "doesn't actually risk the earth-shattering kaboom of a matter-antimatter annihilation."

I refer you to the post made by the right honourable commentard some moments ago (on Wednesday 26th June 2013 08:03 GMT to be precise)

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Devil

Re: "doesn't actually risk the earth-shattering kaboom of a matter-antimatter annihilation."

But we want to be able to make an earth-shattering kaboom!

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Mushroom

Re: "doesn't actually risk the earth-shattering kaboom of a matter-antimatter annihilation."

"Oh, is that all. Driven by ?"

Antimatter. Duh.

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Re: "doesn't actually risk the earth-shattering kaboom of a matter-antimatter annihilation."

It's okay, using nothing more than a simple time machine we can fuel the first interstellar starship with the antimatter it brings back in the future.

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Re: "doesn't actually risk the earth-shattering kaboom of a matter-antimatter annihilation."

True enough, indeed, that Teflon seems to have fared quite well. :)

Still, it'd be really handy to physicists if they could generate a gram of positrons and store them safely.

Safely, as unsafely would rather render their building unusable.

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Re: "doesn't actually risk the earth-shattering kaboom of a matter-antimatter annihilation."

"all we have to do is build an interstellar starship"

Why bother? Just stop off at Jupiter and capture what is stuck in its magnetic fields. One could do it in Earth orbit too, but Jupiter has a much stronger and larger field, hence captures more.

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Headmaster

> relatavistic

relativistic!

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Relatavistic

- is this a throwback to earlier spelling mistakes?

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Anonymous Coward

Talk about non stick ..

I knew Teflon was good, but preventing matter-antimatter annihilation ? Wow !

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Nobody talked about the Bremsstrahlung. Nobody ever talks about the Bremsstrahlung.

Teflon is great for preventing annihilation. You just get irradiated instead.

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Re: Nobody talked about the Bremsstrahlung. Nobody ever talks about the Bremsstrahlung.

No Bremsstrahlung today. Bremsstrahlung tomorrow. There is always Bremsstrahlung tomorrow.

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Re: Talk about non stick ..

Does this mean Spock or Scotty could build a warp drive from a frying pan?

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Re: Talk about non stick ..

"I knew Teflon was good, but preventing matter-antimatter annihilation ? "

Not at all. A bunch of electrons were annihilated and a couple of photons of gamma radiation were released 180 degrees from one another.

Low enough radiation to be harmless.

Except with that guy who was next to it and started growing and turning green...

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Anonymous Coward

Cool

Now we have an antimatter source, someone needs to invent dilithium.

On the flip side it might be possible to use antimatter to catalyse conventional "hot" fusion by supercharging the reaction in a tokamak or more feasibly, a whiffle ball aka Bussard Polywell.

Any problems with containment could be overcome by operating the fusor in pulsed mode with burn times in the 200ms range rather than continuous like the proposed "light bulb" reactor.

If this actually works I propose that it be called the "Impulse Drive".

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Windows

Re: Cool

"tokamak" added to the list of uber cool words....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Cool

Whiffle ball? Wasn't that the original name for table tennis, Bojo used to go on about?

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Boffin

Re: Cool

Now we have an antimatter source, someone needs to invent dilithium.

This is a positron source, not quite as useful as an antiproton source. Given one of those, though, you wouldn't need any dilithium.

It is possible to make relatively lightweight and quite powerful antimatter-catalysed nuclear pulse engine with equipment we could conceivably build right now... have a look at this stuff, especially "Antiproton-catalyzed microfission/fusion propulsion systems". 30 day trip to Mars, a little over 50% of the ship's total mass needed for reaction mass, and all this with a mere 150 nanograms of antiprotons. I bet CERN could brew that much up in under a year, if they really tried hard.

All that's lacking is determination. The US could build such a spacecraft and has some domestic particle accellerators to provide the fuel, but I don't see any US government seriously diverting funds from the military to spaceflight any time soon.

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Happy

Re: Cool

Meh. Tokamak is too mainstream to be cool anymore!

I prefer the more ominous "Stellarator"

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Re: Cool

"It is possible to make relatively lightweight and quite powerful antimatter-catalysed nuclear pulse engine ..."

I seem to recall some theory on meson catalyzed fusion devices as well.

As for "the US could build such a spacecraft", erm, not quite. Our rockets still occasionally go awry. It would be rather unpleasant if we have a few hundred kilograms of antimatter depart containment inside of the Earth's magnetosphere, let alone atmosphere. Add in the fact that even gram quantities would cost more than the entire US DoD budget, counting black budgets, I don't see that happening (not to mention building so many particle accelerators) not only anytime soon, but ever.

"Where's the kaboom? There should've been an Earth shattering kaboom!"

<SRB failure, uncontrolled descent of the spacecraft>

"Oh, there it is."

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Re: Cool

"rather unpleasant if we have a few hundred kilograms of antimatter depart containment inside of the Earth's magnetosphere"

It's an antimatter catalyzed process. It's supposed to only require <micrograms of antiprotons

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Ré Not really “tabletop” size.

Come on!! We are talking Americans, have you seen the size of the tables needed to house some of those fat arses??

Mines the XXXXXXXXXL

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WTF?

Re: Ré Not really “tabletop” size.

Hey, you cannot insult them now, it's a "disability"....

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Re: Ré Not really “tabletop” size.

So how big does the table need to be to hold the "petawatt laser"?

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Re: Ré Not really “tabletop” size.

It's actually iTabletop[1] size.

[1] Requires additional hardware. Some steps have been omitted and sequences shortened.

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Re: Ré Not really “tabletop” size.

"We are talking Americans, have you seen the size of the tables needed to house some of those fat arses??"

Here in the civilized world of the US (OK, occasionally civilized, when not arguing about gun control, religion or politics), we don't sit on our tables. We sit with the table in front of us.

Hence, the table fails to house anyone.

It is used to hold food though, such as a full sized 23 pound turkey sandwich... ;)

And a few three liter bottles of Coke. :/

<Caveat, I personally don't drink soft drinks, well, not unless there is an ample amount of distilled alcoholic beverage available to decontaminate it.>

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K
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Teflon eh?

"Yes step this way please Mr Ballmer.. your exactly what we need!"

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Re: Teflon eh?

Just line up behind the queue of people who don't know the difference between your and you're.

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Happy

Re: Teflon eh?

If all it takes to save mankind from a nanojoule-scale antimatter explosion is the live of Mr. Ballmer, I'm all for it! The good of many etc. etc.

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Joke

Re: Teflon eh?

People who don't know the difference between your and you're, their very stupid.

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Headmaster

Re: Teflon eh?

Grammar: the difference between knowing your shit and knowing you're shit.

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Mushroom

Unlicensed particle accelerators

"It generally takes a decent-sized particle accelerator to produce antimatter"

Or a banana. But I suppose it depends on how much useable antimatter you want.

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Re: Unlicensed particle accelerators

"Or a banana. But I suppose it depends on how much useable antimatter you want."

Thought about that one for a moment. Relativistic banana...

Somehow, my mind drifted to an adult movie with that as a theme.

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Unhappy

No earth-shattering kaboom?

But I wanted an earth-shattering kaboom!

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Re: No earth-shattering kaboom?

BOOM!

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Re: No earth-shattering kaboom?

Thank you!

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Mushroom

Unlicenced nuclear accelerator?

Don't cross the streams!

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Re: Unlicenced nuclear accelerator?

Why worry?

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It needs a room sized laser?

Sigh ... I'll take the sharks back to the training caves.

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Boffin

Re: It needs a room sized laser?

You're going to need a bigger Shark !

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