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LHC Scientists Create and Capture Antimatter 269

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-want-my-warp-drive dept.
Velcroman1 writes "Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider have created antimatter in the form of antihydrogen, demonstrating how it's possible to capture and release it. The development could help researchers devise laboratory experiments to learn more about this strange substance, which mostly disappeared from the universe shortly after the Big Bang 14 billion years ago. Trapping any form of antimatter is difficult, because as soon as it meets normal matter — the stuff Earth and everything on it is made out of — the two annihilate each other in powerful explosions. 'We are getting close to the point at which we can do some classes of experiments on the properties of antihydrogen,' said Joel Fajans, a University of California, Berkeley professor of physics, and LBNL faculty scientist. 'Since no one has been able to make these types of measurements on antimatter atoms at all, it's a good start.'"
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LHC Scientists Create and Capture Antimatter

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @03:49PM (#34260130)

    ... for destroying the world in 2012.

  • Oh hey everybody, it's Tom Hanks!

  • antihydrogen (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @03:51PM (#34260172)

    IANAP.. but..

        I think the temporary capture of antiprotons and antielectrons has been achieved before, since it is relatively easy. It is the significant-duration capture of antihydrogen (i.e. antiproton + antielectron, forming an electrically neutral 'anti-atom') which is new ( ? ). Please correct, and scold, me if I am wrong.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      To support the above.. Here is a link to a paper referring to confinement of antiprotons. I do not know the date (how do I find it?), but it was apparently already cited back in 1993.

      http://www.springerlink.com/content/r5m0760242k25775/

    • Re:antihydrogen (Score:4, Informative)

      by MozeeToby (1163751) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:10PM (#34260472)

      Yes, capturing anti-ions is relatively easy (still quite hard though) since you can just use magnetic fields to confine the anti-matter without it coming into contact with the walls of the container. Getting the anti-protons and anti-electrons to combine into a single atom that stays at a low enough energy level that it can be contained for a significant amount of time is hard, especially since it is neutral and can't be contained with magnetic fields. They managed it here by producing very, very cold anti-hydrogen so that the energy levels were low enough that they didn't immediately annihilate with the regular matter that made up the container.

      • Re:antihydrogen (Score:4, Interesting)

        by John Hasler (414242) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:59PM (#34261332) Homepage

        Getting the anti-protons and anti-electrons to combine into a single atom that stays at a low enough energy level that it can be contained for a significant amount of time is hard, especially since it is neutral and can't be contained with magnetic fields.

        I believe you can, by manipulating the dipole moment. Not easy.

    • Re:antihydrogen (Score:5, Informative)

      by Phroon (820247) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:29PM (#34260770) Homepage

      I think the temporary capture of antiprotons and antielectrons has been achieved before

      You are correct. For example the Fermilab Antiproton Source, which creates antiprotons and stores them, has been in operation since 1985 [1] [fnal.gov], while the Fermilab Recycler has held onto a continuous stash of antiprotons for over a month [2] [fnal.gov]. And these are by no means the very first machines to capture and store antimatter, I'd have to dig though the history a bit more to find an earlier example.

      Production of Anti-hydrogen (antiproton orbited by a positron) seems to have been achieved in 1995 at CERN, with Fermilab confirming production in 1997 [3] [wikipedia.org]. But those atoms were destroyed immediately after being created, this is the first time I've heard of anyone successfully storing anti-hydrogen for any long period of time. So yes, the headline is misleading, we've been capturing antimatter for quite some time, it's the fact that you are capturing the neutrally charged anti-hydrogen (antiproton -1, positron +1, total = 0) that's the real news.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by bondsbw (888959)

      IANAP

      Not a proton? Sorry, due to violent history, antiprotons are no longer permitted to post on these forums. We hope you understand. However, if you feel this policy is threatening or misplaced, please post a message to our Dilithium moderators, and they will be glad to transfer your message once it has been phase-adjusted. We do not intend to inject our own matter/antimatter opinions, or to warp your discussions, but our core values require that we encourage a field of openness. Please do not post trilit

  • by kheldan (1460303) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @03:51PM (#34260174) Journal
    ..then does that mean it doesn't matter? :-)
  • Only if... (Score:5, Funny)

    by MallocFork (738134) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @03:51PM (#34260176)

    Now if they could only create antiidiot we could release it and take care of most of the worlds problems.

  • by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @03:54PM (#34260228) Journal

    The core is negative/neutral mass and the orbit is positive mass. Naturally, anti-matter electrical conductors conduct positive particles rather than negative. The questions of behavior that need to be answered is what exactly causes i.e. electroconductivity. Reversing the charges, in theory, won't affect the behavior insomuch as you have X mobile particles and Y non-mobile particles setting up orbits that should be the same (the nature of electrical charge attraction doesn't change), so anti-copper should conduct positrons like copper conducts electrons etc. The reality... we don't know, of course.

    It would be a big thing if someone created anti-copper AND it didn't behave exactly like copper when supplied with an anti-potential from an anti-battery.

    • I was always under the impression that anti-matter had possitive mass but all of the information was simply the opposite of regular matter. Am I wrong?
    • I have a feeling though that it is slightly more complex than that - it's not "just' that the charges are swapped - otherwise there'd be no reason that "regular" matter seems to have prevailed over antimatter. The positive particles (Protons) also have far more mass than negative particles (Electrons) - so I honestly don't expect anti-copper to behave exactly like copper.

      • by MobyDisk (75490) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:07PM (#34260406) Homepage

        The positive particles (Protons) also have far more mass than negative particles (Electrons)

        Protons are not antimatter electrons. Positrons are antimatter electronis, and they do have the same mass as electrons. The antimatter opposite of a Proton is an anti-proton. The naming system is inconsistent, probably because the original creators of the names did not know about antimatter.

    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:05PM (#34260384) Homepage

      It would be a big thing if someone created anti-copper AND it didn't behave exactly like copper when supplied with an anti-potential from an anti-battery.

      Would anti-physicists finally get the polarity correct on the anti-battery or would it still be backwards?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Linker3000 (626634)

        We will never know since every time an anti-physicist turns up for a meeting with a physicist to discuss their results they both disappear.

    • by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:08PM (#34260434)

      The core is negative/neutral mass and the orbit is positive mass. Naturally, anti-matter electrical conductors conduct positive particles rather than negative. The questions of behavior that need to be answered is what exactly causes i.e. electroconductivity. Reversing the charges, in theory, won't affect the behavior insomuch as you have X mobile particles and Y non-mobile particles setting up orbits that should be the same (the nature of electrical charge attraction doesn't change), so anti-copper should conduct positrons like copper conducts electrons etc. The reality... we don't know, of course.

      It would be a big thing if someone created anti-copper AND it didn't behave exactly like copper when supplied with an anti-potential from an anti-battery.

      Weird post unless you meant for it to be a joke that I didn't get.

      We don't know that the assumption that anti-H behaves like H is true, and there's value in experimentally examining as many aspects of its behavior as we can. I'm not sure why you seem to indicate otherwise.

      But then you go on to imply that electrical properties of anti-copper are the really interesting topic of anti-matter study. You seem to realize how incredibly difficult that would be. I don't understand why you declare one experiment to be uselessly redundant and the other a "big thing."

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by bluefoxlucid (723572)

        I'm just saying that anti-matter is charge-reversed matter; but charge is really an irrelevant topic for the most part. Electrons (negative charge) are attracted to protons (positive charge). Electrons also move freely, since protons inhabit the nucleus of the matter and electrons orbit. All properties of matter are based on the interaction of electrons with the nucleus-- the orbital levels, valence shells, etc. Swap the charges and, reasonably, you have the same thing.

        If you swap the charges and find

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by cbhacking (979169)

          Don't we already have materials that care very much about the direction of charge? I suspect you'd have a hard time posting on Slashdot if the silicon in your computer stopped being a semiconductor.

          That's not to say that your claim of "it's just reversed charges; everything else is the same" is wrong, but there's certainly interesting science to be done. If nothing else, there's value in validating our assumptions. Our current models don't really account for antimatter, much like Newton's laws don't account

  • In the early moments of the big bang, there were supposedly equal amounts of matter and antimatter created. This promptly annihilated leaving behind whatever imbalance there was in the relative amounts. This leftover matter is what the universe is made up of now.

    However, a particle and antiparticle won't annihilate if they do not come in contact with each other. If one half of the big bang were matter rich and the other half was antimatter rich, and were kept apart, then half the universe could be ant
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Intron (870560)

      Read "Worlds-Antiworlds: Antimatter in Cosmology" (1966) by Hannes Alfvén. Its the original discussion of this topic.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MozeeToby (1163751)

      There would have to be a region of space where the matter and anti-matter interfaced, which would produce significant amounts of gamma radiation. We don't see any such interface in the visible universe (I believe current understand says that if it were there our tools are powerful enough to see it) so it would seem that the part of the universe we live in is all matter. I suppose it's possible that the interface lies somewhere outside of our visible universe though.

    • by sznupi (719324)

      Things is, apparently there weren't equal amounts of matter and antimatter created. Supposedly the symmetry between matter and antimatter is not the case at very high energies, like just after the Big Bang.

      Antimatter areas of the Universe would had to be reconciled with some pretty fundamental stuff [wikipedia.org] (for which there is quite a lot support - enough so they would probably had to be far beyond our horizon / observable Universe, in which case: no, we can't observe them and it doesn't matter, they don't exist fo

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by painandgreed (692585)

      However, a particle and antiparticle won't annihilate if they do not come in contact with each other. If one half of the big bang were matter rich and the other half was antimatter rich, and were kept apart, then half the universe could be antimatter and half matter. Is there a way of detecting this?

      I believe the easiest answer to this is that in the very early universe, things were hot enough that everything was an ion (the first 300,000 years). Oppositely charged particles would have collided and where pa

  • CERN != LHC (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:02PM (#34260334)

    ALPHA project is NOT a part of LHC. It is one of many other project at CERN that does not have much to do with LHC.

  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:02PM (#34260338) Homepage
    Note that production and capture of antihydrogen is not new. There's been prior work trying to use it to test for possible CPT violations. See for example hussle.harvard.edu/~atrap/Papers/2010/AntihydrogenPhysicsToday.pdf [slashdot.org], http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2005APS..DPPFP1058V [harvard.edu] and http://www.physics.harvard.edu/Thesespdfs/speck.pdf [harvard.edu].
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ATRAP has not demonstrated trapped hbar. Production, sure... but the Speck thesis was written long before the magnetic traps for trapping hbar even existed, let alone worked.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:02PM (#34260340)
    Antiprotons are relatively low-energy phenomena, being produced at 1 GeV. The LHC is a HIGH-energy facility, using energies 7000 times higher. Using the LHC to make antiprotons would be ridiculous overkill and counter-productive, since the ALPHA experiment needs antihydrogen at rest. Not every experiment at CERN uses the LHC. In this case, the cool bit of machinery is the Antiproton Decelerator (AD) and ALPHA's magnetic trapping system.
  • by RealGrouchy (943109) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:02PM (#34260342)

    If they really created antihydrogen, they should prove it by taking a photo.

    We'll have to be extra cautious that they don't just take a photo of regular hydrogen and apply a negative filter to the image.

    - RG>

    • by AdamThor (995520)

      Actually, anti-hydrogen looks exactly like hydrogen, but with a goatee. It's usually taking advantage of this fact by surprising regular hydrogen's friends with evil acts. The fact that the two annihilate each other if they ever meet is why you never see them both in the same take...

  • Fox News, really? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:06PM (#34260402)

    Stopped reading after the first sentence...

    Scientists working on the big bang machine in Geneva have done the seemingly impossible: create, capture and release antimatter.

    The "machine" in question does have a name, you know?
    BBC News also has coverage,
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11773791 [bbc.co.uk]

  • Finally some truth to a Dan Brown novel.
  • by aztektum (170569) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:12PM (#34260490)

    I'm not trying to rag on Fox News here, but why link them and not CERN's press release page?

    Clicky [web.cern.ch]

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jayme0227 (1558821)

      Because then we wouldn't be able to go laugh at (or cry because of) the comments at FoxNews.com.

      Some of my favorites from this article:

      Forget terrorists, nukes, and germ warfare. These guys are the real threat. I hope these a*holes dont end up messing everything up before my kid has a chance to live a whole life.

      They don't. The modern scientist is just an imaginative liar.

      Physicist and Nobel Prize winner Dr. Jason Lisle has proven that the earth doesn't have to be billions of years old for light to reach us from distant stars. His theory of Anisotropic Synchrony Convention proves that light traveled at an infinite velocity at the moment of creation. Thus, we can be comfortable with the fact that the earth turned 6,014 years old on Oct. 23. Thanks to the theory of Amyotrophic Lateral Convection, the truth of the Bible in verified.

      14 billion years ago? Where do they come up with that ridiculous number? The universe was made in 6 days by God, thousands of years ago. It is in the Bible. Now they claim to have the substance of Lucifer? End of the year is coming and I guess it's time to dole out new grants.

      The way it looks, some of these guys are just good trolls. However, I've been around long enough to know how hard it is to distinguish extremists from those pretending to be extremists.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:17PM (#34260566)

    LHC Scientists Create and Capture Antimatter

    PETAM (People for the Ethical Treatment of Antimatter) are not going to be pleased with this. Especially the bits about physicists staging pit-bull style "dog fights" between matter and antimatter, and placing quantum mechanics based bets to the outcome of the duels.

    Remember, children, "God does not play dice!"

    And let that antimatter roam free! No capture, no antimatter!

  • by houghi (78078) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:17PM (#34260576)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j50ZssEojtM [youtube.com]
    It explains in easy to understand words what it does.

  • The article, although limited on scientific data, is interesting. It makes me wonder how much and at what rate they capture antimatter? What circumstances are required to ensure that antimatter is present to trap?

    If one can readily trap antimatter you wouldn't need to store it long. Instead control matter antimatter collisions and harness the explosive power. What would it be called? an engine? a reactor? a generator? Hmmmmmm...

  • by fishexe (168879) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:18PM (#34260598) Homepage
    ...and we'll have Warp Drive! Huzzah!
  • A story about the LHC and you link to Fox News? Come on now...

  • Link to the Original (Score:3, Informative)

    by ONto (940942) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @04:32PM (#34260826) Homepage Journal
    quote>

    Please use this link http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101117/full/468355a.html [nature.com] it was the original. Tired of the FOX News links.

    • Whoops, I probably should have looked for the original. Thanks. Would mod up but I don't have points right now.

  • First time? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Gnaget (1043408)
    Scientists have captured antimatter before. I recall an interview with a physicist (I believe Colbert Report) who mentioned they had antimatter captured before. Doing a quick Google search, I found references to captured antimatter going back to 2002: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn1957-antimatter-atoms-captured-for-the-first-time.html [newscientist.com]
  • When have you caught so much anti-matter that releasing it would cause a serious problem? How much is too much?
  • All I want is a beam or bolt of antimatter that I can launch at my enemies and the occasional bird or squirrel. I'm guessing the beam or bolt would have to be encapsulated with something to prevent reaction with the atmosphere prior to hitting the target and I assume it would be some sort of energy field. So now let's do that so I can have my blaster!

    Also... lightsaber? Where is my lightsaber?

  • News for nuffers. Stuff that antimatters.

  • by cheros (223479) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @06:05PM (#34262348)

    At http://cerncourier.com/cws/article/cern/30577 [cerncourier.com] you can read a slightly sarcastic piece about what it would take to hold the quantities that Dan Brown used in his books.

    Nice wry write-up - I like the details..

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @08:10PM (#34263504)

    Why not just make a container out of anti-matter? Problem solved.

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