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back to article BEAM ME UP SCOTTY: Boffins to turn PURE LIGHT into MATTER

A trio of theoretical physicists reckon scientists will be able to make matter out of pure light* within the next year using today's technology. The photon-photon collider that could prove the Breit-Wheeler theory of how to turn light into matter The idea of making matter out of light sounds far-fetched, but it’s an important …

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Whats the matter?

What exactly are the photons being transmuted into? Atomic particles like electrons? Sub-atomic like quarks etc?

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Re: Whats the matter?

Nice title, but if you'd've read the article, you'd've known that electrons and positrons would be /*created edit:*/ converted into

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Boffin

Re: Whats the matter?

That the product is an electron/positron pair suggests to me that rather than converting the photons into e-/e+ pairs, it could be that it's interacting with a virtual e-/e+ pair and giving them enough energy to overcome their attractive nature, so instead of instantly annihilating again, they fly off on separate paths, having absorbed the photon(s), a sort of analogue to Hawking Radiation. Be interesting to see the outcome of this experiment. And I wonder if there are similar interactions that thoeretically exists, or if it's only photons->e-/e+ - ie could sufficiently energetic photons produce muon/anti-muon pairs?

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Re: Whats the matter?

I really like that theory

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Boffin

Re: Whats the matter?

Well, kinda. In QFT terms, fluctuations in the electron-positron field would be stabilised into quantised waves by the energy of the photons. QFT people tend to dislike "virtual particles" as confusing.

If the photons are energetic enough, then any particle/anti-particle pair can be formed; it's just that e-/e+ pairs are the lowest energy by miles, and really high-energy photons are a pain in the arse to deal with, which is why the experiment is so tricky.

You could get proton/anti-proton if you have 1870 times the energy in your ɣ/ɣ collision compared to the electron-positron pair. But getting 1870 times the energy, now there's the rub.

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Re: Whats the matter?

Bacon.

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Re: Whats the matter? - proton/anti-proton

Why not start with up and down quarks and let the protons build themselves (and the anti particles of course)? Third of the energy expenditure or so. Take it that the 1870 times energy rate is for whole proton and not just a quark?

Wouldn't you need a large magnetic field to keep the anti-matter and normal stuff apart so it does not reconvert to gamma pretty smartish, which would stop proton formation but could give you some mesons?

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Re: Whats the matter?

I don't think the process will result in pairs that would produce muon/anti-muons...It seems they are suggesting the convergence will produce a dipole or single lepton, i.e. electron

It seems unlikely the collision could reach the mass of a a muon in such an experiment with considerable mass; considering the energy from such a collision doesn't seem to have enough power to create muons.

e does = mc2 so where super density is not present, a lepton being formed is dependent of angular momentum or spin of the electron formed...

I am skeptical they will actually even produce an electron and if it produces anything at all it may produce Neutrinos...

Guess we'll have to wait and see...

Kristina

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Trollface

Re: Whats the matter?

"Demonstrating the Breit-Wheeler theory would be the final piece of research needed to describe the simplest ways light and matter interact and help to solve one of physics’ greatest mysteries - gamma ray bursts, THE BIGGEST EXPLOSIONS IN THE UNIVERSE."

-- has anyone stopped to think that this experiment might be a BAD IDEA??

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Briet - Wheeler PANHANDLER ALLERT ! ! !

Title says "Boffins to turn PURE LIGHT into MATTER"....

the title left out...."Might"...."Maybe"...."Hope to"....

more pie-in-the-sky physics theory in search of GRANT $ $ $

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Re: Whats the matter?

When GRBs were first discovered, I couldn't help noticing that the energy patterns represented what I felt would be produced by an object breaking the light barrier. Yeah yeah yeah only light travels at the speed of light - but we know that that is true only for a given value of true. If something were to go transluminary, there would be a massive energy surge at the point where the status change occurred.

Consider the energy release pattern at the point where an object passes through the 'sound barrier' and contextualising it in the transluminary context, and we have a similarity which needs consideration. If there were to be small clusters of GRBs found eventually, that could signify intelligent traffic and be an indicator of interstellar trade.

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Re: Briet - Wheeler PANHANDLER ALLERT ! ! !

Yes, let's just give up now, shall we? Nothing new will ever be discovered, so what's the point?

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Re: Whats the matter? @Richrd Gladsden

"QFT people tend to dislike "virtual particles" as confusing." QFT people wouidn't be half as confused by VP's as ordinary folk like me!

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Star Trek Replicators

Here we come!

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Re: Star Trek Replicators

Damn right!

I'll see you on the holodeck.

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Boffin

Re: Star Trek Replicators

Pah.

What we need now is an inertialess engine to generate this matter inside of...

and an intertialess ship on the end of it.

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Joke

Re: Star Trek Replicators

The only downside of a replicator based on this mechanism is the formation of an anti-hamburger together with your hamburger. It may be a balanced diet, in a manner of speaking, but could lead to explosive indigestion to which the phrase "blast radius" would seem to small (swamp dragons would be jealous)

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Coat

Re: Star Trek Replicators

Obvious choice for their first attempt?

Boffin: Computer. Tea, Earl Grey, hot.

Mine is the one with the gamma ray protective lining.

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Coat

Re: Star Trek Replicators

The anti-hamburger can be beamed down to engineering to help power the ship.

"I'm sorry Cap'n, I'm giving her all she's got! If you need more speed, send all available personnel to the nearest replicator!"

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Re: Star Trek Replicators

That's why you need pasta and anti-pasta

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Re: Star Trek Replicators

to hplasm

The way to obtain inertial drives is to obtain a disconnect in the feedback so that instead of being equal and opposite, a vector is obtained. How to achieve this disconnect? How about high pressure steam?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Star Trek Replicators

Ahh. You're forgetting human nature. The first thing to get replicated will be a phallic object of some size/weight/description.

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Meh

* Light Bulb Moment *

<see title - when they get it to work presumably>

The photon generating technology could also be applied to car headlights, because we all know that up-market sport-saloons need really, really, really bright (often misaligned), headlights so they can dazzle every other driver in the on-coming stream for miles.

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IT Angle

Gooooooowld

Why are so many prototype science experiments made of gold?

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Re: Gooooooowld

GOLD because it is nice and dense, nearly twice the density of lead, and not radioactive.

There's not much thats denser than gold (SG=19.3). Osmium (SG=22.6) is the densest easily available substance and costs a lot more than gold ($77000/kg vs $27000/kg), which seems like a lot to pay for a 15% density increase. Density is important in this experiment: the denser the target, the more likely that the electrons in the beam are to hit a nucleus in that target and hence the stronger the resulting gamma ray beam. The most commonly available bulk radioactive, Uranium, is less dense than gold and half the price, but it seems likely that its radioactivity could screw up the experiment as well as making it nasty to handle or store.

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Re: Gooooooowld

Physical properties. Amongst others it's highly reflective, highly malleable, polishes to a near-perfect mirror surface, conducts electricity very well, doesn't tarnish(*), and it's very dense.

(*) More accurately it's a noble metal - a gold surface is actually gold. C.f. aluminium or zirconium or many other shiny metals which also polish to a good mirror, but which have surfaces of protective metal oxide, not pure metal.

Here I guess that the high density is key for the target. Platinum is slightly denser but won't offer such a clean surface, is harder to fabricate, and costs even more in any case.

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Joke

Re: Gooooooowld

Why don't they use some of the guests from the Jeremy Kyle show - cheap & dense !

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Re: Gooooooowld

Just to add to that; unlike gold, osmium reacts with air to form the really, really, really poisonous OsO4, so is somewhat inconvenient to handle.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Gooooooowld

I would have thought if density was the driving requirement and that given they, supposedly, only use a very thin leaf of the metal that getting that extra 15% and the extra intensity that goes with it would be worth the expense.

Of course for all I know a 15% increase in density will only lead to a 0.1% increase in collisions but I'd hate to think an expensive experiment like that was cutting corners with a hundred quids worth of thin metal.

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Re: Gooooooowld

Well, as Bernard Black put it, "Whores will have their trinkets..."

Sad to admit, but I wasn't that diverted by this article until I read the words

the biggest explosions in the Universe

/HulkSmash

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Re: Gooooooowld

A gold+research lab story.

Some years ago, I heard a story about how a company resolutely insisted on wasting the not insignificant cost of about three ounces of gold.

One of the many research uses for gold is vacuum deposition onto objects prior to scanning electron microscopy. The gold blank in the heavily used gold plater had finally been used up. (Most of it deposits on the bell jar that maintains the vacuum, and then gets washed down the sink a few milligrammes at a time, because you don't want a shiny gold opaque bell jar, you want a transparent one.)

A replacement gold blank made of ultrapure 99.999 gold cost several times the gold content. The cheap approach was a Krugerrand, which happened to be the same diameter. Of course it's less pure gold, but that didn't matter.

But could these guys get an order for a Krugerrand past purchasing? To cut a long story short, no, No, NO!!. Expensive ultrapure overpriced gold blank it had to be. Laboratory equipment suppliers good. Bullion dealers bad.

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Boffin

Re: Gooooooowld

I'm sure the solid gold target will still be about the cheapest part of this experiment.

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Re: Gooooooowld

THe densest matter known to man sits in abundance in the House of Commons and in your Cloacal Authority where it is neither very active nor radioactive.

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Re: Gooooooowld

you don't want a shiny gold opaque bell jar

Yes I do. It'd make a swell bookend for my 20th century American poetry shelf.

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Trollface

Inedia

Pha! That's nothing. Breatharianism nut cases have donetried this for years.

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Alert

Get your tin-foil hats here -- at these prices I'm cutting my own throat

So, if they create matter are they also creating anti-matter somewhere?

Isn't there a chance of:

An explosion that kills us all/sends us to a parallel universe/makes a black hole ?

Unexpected anti-matter appearing and killing Angels/Unicorns ?

Rapid enchancement of global warming due to (whatever can be thought up on the spur of the moment)?

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Re: Get your tin-foil hats here -- at these prices I'm cutting my own throat

Yup, the article talks about electron-positron pairs. The positrons would be the anti-matter bits.

So, to add to your fine list: possibility of making a hole to another dimension from which robots with positronic brains emerge. No matter what orders we shout at them, they shut down the facility, because it is dangerous to poor befuddled humans.

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Re: Get your tin-foil hats here -- at these prices I'm cutting my own throat

There's a rarely-considered particle that is created by all high-energy physics experiments. They violate causality, because they always appear before the experiment is carried out, and never afterwards.

They're called Trolls.

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Re: Get your tin-foil hats here -- at these prices I'm cutting my own throat

I beleive the origin of 'trolling' is that of a method of fishing where something shiny is dragged through the water to see what gets hooked.

Fortunately, the tin-foil hats on sale are also perfect material for tying on the end of a line.

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Re: Get your tin-foil hats here -- at these prices I'm cutting my own throat

I'm alright. I've got a crowbar.

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Re: Get your tin-foil hats here -- at these prices I'm cutting my own throat

> I beleive the origin of 'trolling' is that of a method of fishing where something shiny is dragged through the water to see what gets hooked.

Trawling, shirley?

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Re: Get your tin-foil hats here -- at these prices I'm cutting my own throat

AIUI:

Trawling = using a big net

Trolling = using a baited line

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Re: Get your tin-foil hats here -- at these prices I'm cutting my own throat

Trolling and trawling are very different ways of fishing. Even Shirley kno that.

Trolling is, as described, towing something at the end of a fishing line that should look tasty to a fish. Its often shiny or brightly coloured but can also be made from feathers that undulate as they're towed. Trolling is ecologically sound because it doesn't cause collateral damage.

Trawling is dragging a huge netting bag, with a heavy frame to keep its mouth open, along the seabed behind a fishing boat. This rips up and destroys all the corals, seaweed, etc in its path and traps all the fish that don't swim out of the way fast enough. Apart from causing seabed damage, the trawl scoops up and kills a lot of unwanted types of fish which are dumped overboard. Its not even a remotely sound activity from an ecological viewpoint: fish farming is better.

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Dad made me go fishing

No trolling is correct. Trawling is when a big boat drags a net to catch sea life. When a person uses a rod and reel, it's trolling.

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Re: Get your tin-foil hats here -- at these prices I'm cutting my own throat @Rob Carriere

"The positrons would be the anti-matter bits." From the positron's point of view surely the electron is the anti bit!

\

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German Boffin?

According to Google Translate, they would be an Eierkopf or a Tüftler.

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A Tüftler

sounds like someone who would appreciate a bit of hot photon-on-photon action.

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Re: German Boffin?

Adrian, Eierkopf is a literal translation of “egghead”. My 1990s German dictionary describes Tüftler as a “person who likes finicky jobs/niggling problems”, and suggests “puzzle freak” as its translation.

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Re: German Boffin?

"Do you buy a Titzling or do you buy a Brassiere?"

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I want some of that coffee.

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