Uses of Antimatter
-Antimatter could possibly be the fuel that powers spaceships to the planets and perhaps the stars.
"Mars in 6 weeks? And back in a total of four months That's the prediction of a design team working on antimatter rocket concepts at Pennsylvania State University. But first, you have to get the stuff - and store it. (PSU)"
-Space craft would achieve much greater speeds and be able to stay in space for longer periods of time.
-Antimatter has tremendous energy
-Matter-antimatter annihilation - the complete conversion of matter into energy - releases the most energy per unit mass of any known reaction in physics.
-The popular belief is that an antimatter particle coming in contact with its matter counterpart yields energy, gamma rays up to 511,000 electron volts.
-This could be used as an auxiliary energy source for the space program, saving millions in fossil fuels, but losing billions in dollars.
-In fact, it would cost one-hundred billion dollars to create one milligram of antimatter.
What about using antimatter for power generation?
-It costs far more energy to create antimatter than the energy one could get back from an antimatter reaction. Right now standard nuclear reactors, which take advantage of the decay of radioactive substances, are far more promising as power generating technology than antimatter. Something to keep in mind, too, is that antimatter reactions - where antimatter and normal matter collide and release energy, require the same safety precautions as needed with nuclear reactions. (http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/PAO/html/warp/antistat.htm, accessed 9 June 1999)
Antimatter for Medical Purposes
-Antimatter isn't restricted to space; applications for medicinal purposes include a radioisotope generator for Positron Emission Tommography, and radiography for detection and possible treatment of tumors.
-This is done by injecting isotopes into the brain, usually of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and flourine.
-These isotopes are most often used, due to their rate of decay, usually a few minutes to a few hours.
-As the radioisotopes migrate from the decay site, each becomes two photon.
-The image then received is that of several thousand photons around a decay site; unlike x-rays, which can only show density, PET scans provide information such as chemical uptake.
-Like all uses of antimatter, this procedure is costly, up to several million dollars.
Antimatter for Testing Theories of the Universe
-Scientists have devised a method of testing antimatter, coming down to the simples element, Hydrogen.
-Hydrogen was the most logical choice as it has been tested and contains one proton, neutron, and electron.
-For the antihydrogen, there shoyuld be one antiproton, an antineutron, and a positron.
-In theory, the electron should be attracted to the proton with the exact same force that the positron would be attracted to the antiproton.
-If any of this should not happen, physicists will have to re-examine some of our most basic theories about the universe.