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Sci-Fi Science

Antimatter Molecule Should Boost Laser Power 211

Posted by Zonk
from the i-hope-that-annihilation-ray-laser-is-for-peaceful-purposes dept.
Laser Lover writes "Molecules made by combining an electron with their anti-particle positron have been created by researchers at the University of California Riverside. The team's long term goal is to use the exotic material to create 'an annihilation gamma ray laser', potentially one million times more powerful than existing lasers. 'An electron can hook up with its antiparticle, the positron, to form a hydrogen-like atom called positronium (Ps). It survives for less than 150 nanoseconds before it is annihilated in a puff of gamma radiation. It was known that two positronium atoms should be able to bind together to form a molecule ... '"
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Antimatter Molecule Should Boost Laser Power

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  • Oh dear (Score:4, Funny)

    by jsiren (886858) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @04:21AM (#20665157) Homepage
    Now I'm afraid to plug in my PS/2 mouse.
    • Don't worry.

      They are now making a new style of mouse, which should be much safer. I think it's made from an alloy of Uranium, Sulphur, and Boron.
  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @04:22AM (#20665161)
    Because that's what they were saying the first time [slashdot.org] this was posted.
    • by HTH NE1 (675604)
      I know I tagged this as "dupe" on the Firehose yesterday.
    • Laser Lover didn't writes "Molecules made by combining an electron with their anti-particle positron have not been created by researchers at the University of California Riverside. The team's long term goal is to never use the exotic material to create 'an creation gamma ray laser', potentially one million times less powerful than existing lasers. 'An electron can't hook up with its antiparticle, the positron, to form a hydrogen-like atom called positronium (Ps). It can't possibly survive for less than 150
      • by bar-agent (698856)
        Laser Lover didn't writes "Molecules made by combining an electron with their anti-particle positron have not been created by researchers at the University of California Riverside. The team's long term goal is to never use...

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  • To what end? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Big Nothing (229456) <big.nothing@bigger.com> on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @04:23AM (#20665169)
    Granted, more powerful lasers would be great for long-distance communications, but what kind of materials could be used in fiber-optic cables to transmit gamma rays? What kind of insulation would the cable have to use?

    • by cloudwilliam (517411) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @06:38AM (#20665675)
      To crush our enemies, see them driven before us, and hear the lamentations of their women.
      • by ultranova (717540)

        To crush our enemies, see them driven before us, and hear the lamentations of their women.

        Actually, this sound more like it will vaporize our enemies on the spot. Because this laser... goes to eleven! Spartaaa!!!

    • by splutty (43475)
      These types of lasers aren't exactly useful for communication in any way shape or form. This due to the fact the last doesn't actually survive the process. After this thing fires, you'll have one beam of laser heading off in whatever direction you pointed it, and one rapidly expanding cloud of ex-lasergenerator.

      So no, not very useful in a practical sense at all, although it might solve a lot of war related issues if this were to be made into a handheld weapon ;)
  • Oh yes... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by suv4x4 (956391) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @04:25AM (#20665175)
    While being so excited that it's a million times more powerful, we forgot to say it'll be a million times more expensive. You don't find antimatter laying on the ground you know!
    • Re:Oh yes... (Score:5, Informative)

      by lexarius (560925) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:57AM (#20665471)
      Positrons aren't actually that hard to find. All you need is (trying to remember Chem 2) an isotope that produces beta+ radiation. Heard of a PET scan? The P is for Positron. They put some radioactive sugar in your brain and map where the annihilations occur to determine brain activity.
      • If positrons are not hard to find, why am I still not seeing any androids with positronic brains walking around all over the place? :P
        • If positrons are not hard to find, why am I still not seeing any androids with positronic brains walking around all over the place? :P
          you could use the same "why don't i see them everywhere" logic to deny the existence of ninjas, but i wouldn't recommend it
  • Nature article (Score:5, Informative)

    by teridon (139550) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @04:25AM (#20665177) Homepage
  • Obligitory (Score:2, Funny)

    by SPY_jmr1 (768281)
    So would the sharks be a million times more powerful, or could we just use one million *tiny* fricking lasers?
  • by boxxxie (1158849) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @04:31AM (#20665193)
    they mean a Bose-Einstein condensate. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bose%E2%80%93Einstein_condensate/ [wikipedia.org]
  • Damn it, how long will it be before the teenagers at my local cinema have one of these?
    • Damn it, how long will it be before the teenagers at my local cinema have one of these?

      Judging by what's on the screen, not soon enough.
    • by zCyl (14362)

      Damn it, how long will it be before the teenagers at my local cinema have one of these?

      I don't know, but it'll be really funny when all the positrons leak out into their pocket.
  • by SplatMan_DK (1035528) * on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @04:33AM (#20665205) Homepage Journal
    Lasers?

    That won't even penetrate our navigational shields!

    Where are your phasers?
  • by z0M6 (1103593) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @04:37AM (#20665225)
    Next on /.! DIY positronium laser using household items.
  • More info (Score:4, Informative)

    by robably (1044462) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:03AM (#20665309) Journal
    There's an interview with David Cassidy about this in the 13th September Nature Podcast [nature.com] (the page also has the podcast as a direct MP3 download and a transcript).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:05AM (#20665315)
    i doubt a mod will even see this with an AC attatched to it, but, meh.
    try relating this idea with this one
    http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/09/13/2328233 [slashdot.org]
    iirc a few people were curious as to what it may take to get this off the ground (pun so intended) as it were. =P
  • All I have to say is: "Yes, Dr. Scott, a laser capable of emitting a beam of pure anti-matter."
  • Molecules...? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by FlyByPC (841016)
    I was somehow led to believe that a molecule was produced by the combination of two atoms -- which each have at least one proton (in the case of Hydrogen). How does combining an electron with a positron (both very very low mass particles; think "mosquitoes" compared to the "elephant" protons and neutrons in the nucleus) equal an atom -- let alone two or more atoms to equal a molecule?

    It may be cool, but perhaps we need a new name for it. Molecule just doesn't fit; sorry.
    • Indeed. I always thought an "atom" was "something with an equal number of protons and electrons". I don't see how an electron/anti-electron pair fits that definition.
    • But mass is less relevant than you may think. The electron-positron pair is held together by the Coulomb force, which is the same force that binds the proton and the electron. The electron-positron system has a net electric charge of 0, making it electrically neutral.

      As I said in the title, maybe "atom" is a bad word to describe this system. However, the word "atom" comes from a Greek word meaning "indivisible", and since we've since discovered that what we call atoms are divisible after all, the word isn't
      • by Gabrill (556503)
        I'm sure you can find innumerable instances of words that we've discovered don't actually describe what they refer to. Get over it, and stop making my poor school system buy new science books because we've decided to rename everything we know of to ever more confusing and hard to remember (much less pronounce) names.

        BTW I supported Xena/Gabrielle as a planet system, because it is no more different from Earth than Jupiter is.
  • by viking80 (697716) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:55AM (#20665467) Journal
    To conserve momentum (and other) at least two photons are released in opposite direction when the two particles annihilate each other. If this is part of a gamma ray laser, you will have two rays: One aimed at your enemy, one in your face, and a mirror will probably not work at 0.5MeV.
    • by gardyloo (512791)
      If it's truly a part of a laser, they'll have "mirrors" (of one sort or another) to ensure phase coherence anyway.
      • by Catbeller (118204)
        If they can rig a "mirror", you get a photon drive for spacecraft. Hell, for starships. I'd like to see that mirror. I've no doubt some clever wanker can exploit physics to do it, and I await his/her paper.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Not all lasers have mirrors. Mirrors are a hack to get the gain of the tube > 1. If you're lasing media is long enough to have gain > .5, you only need 1 mirror at the back, but if you have enough lasing media you don't need any mirrors. Natural C02 lasers have been detected in the atmosphere of Mars that are miles long.

        A mirror for gamma rays would be cool, but would probably so far I don't think there are mirrors for even X-Rays. (Although they have made gold Fresnel lens for X-Rays.
    • like a bazooka. The blow back would prevent this from being shoulder fired. Still, this would be a cool support weapon to back up your Gauss rifle shock troops.
    • No problem having two ends of destructive power... just ask Darth Maul...

      It just means that the US can hit China and Russia at the same time, or US bases in Iraq can hit Syria and Iran at the same time... sounds groovy...
  • Forget TFA. All you need to know to write a gut-reaction reply is contained in the wonderful phrase 'annihilation gamma ray laser.' Let's start: Have scientists gone too far? Could this be used as a weapon? Could it fall into the wrong hands? React away. :-)
  • if they have a Ps2 molecule laser, and add one more Ps, I wonder if that would that make the ray blue...
  • ...about a new GR-DVD format, but I'm too lazy to flesh it out. Go ahead and pretend that I did, and mod this up.
  • Damn, jokes about sharks aside, the scientific and technical implications of a gamma laser will be immense. Nuclear physicists will love to have one of these to probe nuclei with as an example ( so far you need a massive particle accelerator to do it ). Heck, if you reached sufficiently high energies you could even use it to fission the actinides in nuclear waste without the need to rely on particle accelerators or critical reactors. Positron-electron annihilation probably won't get you high enough energies

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