Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Earth NASA Space Science

Anti-Matter Belt Discovered Around Earth 208

Posted by timothy
from the just-a-pinch-between-the-cheek-and-gum dept.
hydrofix writes "A thin band of antiprotons enveloping the Earth has been spotted for the first time. The find, described in Astrophysical Journal Letters [arXiv] (Note: abstract free, full text paywalled), confirms theoretical work that predicted the Earth's magnetic field could trap antimatter. The antiprotons were spotted by the Pamela satellite launched in 2006 to study the nature of high-energy particles from the Sun and cosmic rays. Aside from confirming theoretical work that had long predicted the existence of these antimatter bands, the particles could also prove to be a novel fuel source for future spacecraft — an idea explored in a report for NASA's Institute for Advanced Concepts."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Anti-Matter Belt Discovered Around Earth

Comments Filter:
  • antimatter (Score:2, Insightful)

    the particles could also prove to be a novel fuel source for future spacecraft

    That's sooooo adorably naive! Everybody knows that if it turns out to be a useful power source, the governments of the world will compete with one another to turn it into a weapon. Space Race 2.0: Fuck The Manhattan Project, Shit Just Got Real!

    • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Sunday August 07, 2011 @01:58PM (#37015532)

      That's sooooo adorably naive! Everybody knows that if it turns out to be a useful power source, the governments of the world will compete with one another to turn it into a weapon. Space Race 2.0: Fuck The Manhattan Project, Shit Just Got Real!

      Talk about naive. SkyNet will use it against us while we bicker between ourselves whether or not to put the anti-matter weapons on sharks or just in the hands of evil corporations.

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      Everybody knows that if it turns out to be a useful power source, the governments of the world will compete with one another to turn it into a weapon.

      Wait, you think that if the anti-matter belt around Earth turned out to be a useful power source that it would be governments that compete for control of it?

      Sister, you are hopelessly naive.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 07, 2011 @02:16PM (#37015664)

      I do believe shit just got Anti-Real.

    • by Twinbee (767046)

      Or we'll be in almost peace by then, as the internet unites nations more and more. The hate on average is going down a lot, thanks to many realizing that real people exist on the other side of the globe. And the internet is a big part of that. Perhaps not so naive.

      • by Nick Ives (317)

        You think the internet reduces hate? Have you seen the comments on Youtube, or even here?

        • by Twinbee (767046)

          I know, hard to believe it was worse before isn't it?

          Seriously, generally speaking, it's a lot harder for people to feel indifferent going to war, when they see others' lives on facebook, the web in general, or even through email.

          • by SomePgmr (2021234)
            I absolutely agree. In even the worst case scenarios, hateful arguments get aired where others can respond with opposing viewpoints, and at least casual passers-by see both sides of any issue.

            You may not change my mind when we disagree, but you might influence the opinions of some random 3rd party. If even by hammering home the notion that there can be rational parties on both sides of a disagreement and we all deserve a little respect.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by silentcoder (1241496)

              >and at least casual passers-by see both sides of any issue.

              I can't think of anything more truly naive than to imagine that any issue has only two sides. Humans, especially politicians, like to think and act as if they did - but the real world never works that way. This makes the whole "both sides" tactic a wonderful form of mass-manipulation.

              By ignoring all shades of gray you can take somebody from a reasonable position and rapidly get them to agree to a highly unreasonable proposition by painting it as

        • There's plenty of hate on the internet, but here's the key item: It's motivated by actions and anonymity, rather than racial prejudice. More important, is that people often begin building friendships now, prior to discovering nationality.

        • You think the internet reduces hate? Have you seen the comments on Youtube, or even here?

          Indeed, there are hate machines on the internet.

    • by plover (150551) *

      If these could serve as fuel, you just know that every alien civilization with space travel capabilities is already harvesting these as they go. This could serve as evidence that the earth has never been visited by extra-terrestrials, or if a significant fraction of the expected particles are missing, it's possible evidence that we were once visited.

      • by dissy (172727)

        If these could serve as fuel, you just know that every alien civilization with space travel capabilities is already harvesting these as they go. This could serve as evidence that the earth has never been visited by extra-terrestrials, or if a significant fraction of the expected particles are missing, it's possible evidence that we were once visited.

        That would be like BP offering a single shot glass worth of free gas, and then since no one wants to spend the $10 in gas to drive there and back to get a free $0.10 shot glass worth, then using it as proof that no one wants free gas...

      • by riverat1 (1048260)

        The antiproton belt is continuously replenished. I don't know how long it would take to replenish it if you removed all of the antiprotons but I wouldn't be surprised if it was on the order of hundreds or thousands of years.

    • by X0563511 (793323)

      If weaponized antimatter was such a big draw, it would be in use by now.

      Why? Because we can already manufacture it. (storage is the problem, and you'd bet your ass the Government(s) would be putting resources into solving that)

      • by plover (150551) *

        I should think long-term storage isn't nearly as big a problem as battlefield delivery. You have to send the entire containment package to the target, because if the particles hit either their container or the atmosphere before arriving downrange, the bad things happen to the wrong people. That means the containment package has to withstand the G forces of launch and trajectory. It might work for a guided dropped bomb, but perhaps not a missile warhead and probably not an artillery shell.

      • Re:antimatter (Score:5, Insightful)

        by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Sunday August 07, 2011 @05:09PM (#37016954)

        I remember an excellent interview a long time ago by a researcher in antimatter who was asked about weapons. His reply was 2 fold insightful:

        1) Who cares, we already have tactical nukes which can fit into a brief case, how much smaller do we really need to get?

        2) It's very very difficult to mix anti-matter instantaneously with a large quantity of matter. You would most likely just get a sustained very hot burn not an explosion. It's the old Fuel/Air conundrum. Per gram gasoline has more explosive power than gun powder. But you have to mix it to get it to react.

    • by Tablizer (95088)

      Everybody knows that if it turns out to be a useful power source, the governments of the world will compete with one another to turn it into a weapon.

      That's how you get research for peaceful purposes also. The ugly secret of humans is that porn and war drive many new technologies, if not most. Rather than fight it, take advantage of it.

      • by plover (150551) *

        That's how you get research for peaceful purposes also. The ugly secret of humans is that porn and war drive many new technologies, if not most. Rather than fight it, take advantage of it.

        So how do you apply Rule 34 to anti-matter?

        Actually, I'm pretty sure I don't want to know.

    • Re:antimatter (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Yvanhoe (564877) on Sunday August 07, 2011 @03:39PM (#37016336) Journal
      Also, several articles mention "billions" of anti proton around the Earth. That is still less than a joule. Bring a sugar cube into orbit, you'll have more fuel than if you captured all the anti-particles that orbit around the Earth.
    • by physburn (1095481)
      Yes, but the goverments can complete for years to make a treaty for the control of it. It a take years before any useful technology can use it, Meanwhile how many antiprotons are there up there? Enough to take a kilogram payload to alpha centuar, in tens of years? Anything less is useless.

      ---

      Space Colonization [feeddistiller.com] Feed

    • You are likely right @girl!

      First the US blew up earth's magnetic belts with nukes in project Starfish Prime [npr.org], you know... just to see if they could.

      Next... the antimatter belt. I predict project name, Apocalypse.

      Zombie Apocalypse if we are all lucky.

      What a grandiose scheme, it can't fail!

  • Fuel? No. (Score:5, Informative)

    by ljhiller (40044) on Sunday August 07, 2011 @01:50PM (#37015476)
    In 2.5 years (of which they were in the south atlantic anomaly something like 5% of the time) they found 28 antiprotons.
    • by rubycodez (864176)
      I knew the amount had to be on that order, or we'd have noticed the gamma ray flashes of our space vehicles passing through it. Anti-matter is so very hugely energy intensive to make, we'll never use it for fuel. It's just a bad deal. We'll be using fusion for advanced space travel
      • So, in ten years then?
      • Re:Fuel? No. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by brunes69 (86786) <<gro.daetsriek> <ta> <todhsals>> on Sunday August 07, 2011 @04:28PM (#37016662) Homepage

        You have to think of anti-matter more of a battery than an energy source. Once you have workable fusion (ie "unlimited", "cheap" power), the barriers to making anti-matter essentially go away. At that point you can make it and use it for space travel for what it is - a very compact energy source, which is exactly what you need for long journeys.

    • by xtieburn (906792)

      Hang on, initial detection rates have nothing to do with the actual quantities you could later harvest. Though that can usually be extrapolated, which it has in the admittedly optimistic paper on the extraction. They measure extraction in micrograms a year depending on the body being harvested and also use the collected material in conjunction with other methods to power any project.

      Now I doubt it would ever become a fuel source, Im sure other means will be ready long before we could scoop up that material,

  • by Uncle Robert (1667285) on Sunday August 07, 2011 @01:57PM (#37015524)
    Has anyone checked at the planning office to see if they are planning to put in a bypass?
    • Has anyone checked at the planning office to see if they are planning to put in a bypass?

      Our requests for information seem to be disrupted by some as-of-yet unknown atmospheric disturbance. I'm sure they'll get back to us at their earliest convenience.

      • I tried finding out and it turns out the intergalactic freedom of information act excludes beings that are not part of the council. Then again maybe it was something along the lines that they were out to lunch? My intergalactic translator was marked "as seen on TV", so I should be careful about it's use for diplomatic purposes.

    • by Yvan256 (722131) on Sunday August 07, 2011 @02:14PM (#37015650) Homepage Journal

      I did. The plans were on display, but I had to go down to the basement to find them. It was in a locked Microsoft Word document, saved on a 360 KB floppy disk, stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying "Beware of the Ponies".

  • Anti-Matter (Score:5, Funny)

    by cob666 (656740) on Sunday August 07, 2011 @02:07PM (#37015608) Homepage
    In other news. General Products press conferences states that visiting Earth could void the warranty on your GP hull.
    • by Agripa (139780)

      What part of "do not advertise this" is beyond your puny comprehension? - Hindmost

  • Even if there were huge quantities of anti-matter (implying that the spacecraft would have been vaporized in a short bright flash of light) and we could store it somehow (ignoring the safety implications of the storage failing) and in any way efficiently convert the resulting hard gamma radiation into anything useful at all, pure anti-matter still only has about 1000 times the energy density of fission fuel and about 100 times that of fuel for nuclear fusion. (Compare that to a factor of about 10 million be
  • We must gobble it up and hoard as much as soon as possible! We don't know what we'll do with it all we just know we need more. HURRY!

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Sunday August 07, 2011 @03:19PM (#37016156)

    Good job, dude! I was wondering what you'd been up to since your work in Dr. Tongue's 3D House of Stewardesses [youtube.com]!

  • at the names of the scientists who published the article. Notice something?
  • Not paywalled (Score:5, Informative)

    by History's Coming To (1059484) on Sunday August 07, 2011 @03:38PM (#37016330) Journal
    Unless the summary is talking about the journal instead of the arXiv article it's not paywalled, I don't think I've ever seen anything on arXiv that is. It's kind of the point. Anyway, if you can't be bothered looking for the PDF link (top right) this will take you straight to the paper. [arxiv.org]
  • Nice NASA IAC document. You can avoid Sheldon-level buzz wording going directly to page 54 where average Howard Wolowitz engineers can understand a great summary.
  • It holds the tachyon pants up.
  • If there were enough antiprotons out there to be useful as a fuel-source, any probes sent through would have come out the other side shredded to the chips. Or am I still theorizing shit?

  • ...something to hold up my antimatter pants.
  • It's not so much that we found anti-protons - that can be expected. It's that they were apparently trapped with such a weak magnetic field as the Earth's.
    • by ThorGod (456163)

      The trick may be that it is big, large, and in a vacuum (relatively).

      Just a wild guess.

  • Fuel,well maybe... (Score:3, Informative)

    by fliner03 (2431950) on Sunday August 07, 2011 @11:38PM (#37019022)

    hmm, 28 particles in three years, maybe not. That pretty much misrepresents the full article.

    From section 4:
    "The factor of proportionality between the antiproton flux and the number of detected antiproton
    candidates, corrected for selection efficiencies and acquisition time, is by definition the gathering
    power of the apparatus.

    The apparatus gathering power was calculated to be significantly
    reduced with respect to the geometric factor (http://pamela.roma2.infn.it/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=28&Itemid=256

    The actual PAMELA instrument is fairly small(roughly 1.3 m x .5m) and has esentially no intake manifold.

    From section 5:
    During about 850 days of data acquisition (from 2006 July to 2008 December), 28 trapped
    antiprotons were identified within the kinetic energy range 60–750 MeV. Events with geomagnetic
    McIlwain coordinates (McIlwain 1961) in the range 1.1 L 1.3 and B 0.216 G were selected,
    corresponding to the SAA. The fractional livetime spent by PAMELA in this region amounts to
    the 1.7% ( 4.6 109 s).

    My understanding is that that 850 days is time live for the instrument and 1.7% is percent of time in the SAA at geomagnetic ranges of interest. Right? So, 4.6X10^9 seconds works out to about 145 years. 1.7% of 850 days is 14.25 days. Quite a discreapency. Can someone else shed light?

    So, you have an instrument with a very small physical intake and no collection system. Limited time at the target site as well. Given these factors, I would have to imagine that a larger more complex system could collect meaningful volumes. Might want to give that Buzzard ram scoop idea a second look.

    The paper from Draper:
    I like their estimations of collection rates. There should have been better treatment of power requirements vs. yeilds of the system. And, they at least could have given a nod to the Sci-Fi popularization of the same idea.

    Now, lets wait too see some realistic propulsion system concepts.

  • So, I think we should start looking at sending a satellite or satellites to collect anti-matter; I don't know if we have the ability to create a magnetic field powerful enough and long enough to do this, but if not we should be figuring it out. I would say don't even bother bringing it back to earth either. When we're ready to do something with it, get the ship into space, whether we launch it, or build it up there, and have it collect the satellite like a stop at the local gas station before heading out...
  • With "worldwide output in the nanogram range", I'd do the rocket motor research here before investing in Van Allen belt farming. The papaer estimates, at best, 15 nanograms in the entire region!?!? Even with 100% efficient harvesting, and the most rosy estimate of content, we are talking 15 nanograms.

    While it may be a "concept", practicality is so far away we may want to work on ESP or try deep mining for dilithium crystals first.

    "Based on this and the subtraction of the solar proton contribution, the

  • by Tekfactory (937086) on Monday August 08, 2011 @02:58PM (#37025558) Homepage

    Jupiter's Magnetic field is supposed to be much bigger and more intense than Earth's, would it have more?

    Could we use it and Saturn as some kind of anti-matter fuel depot?

"Irrationality is the square root of all evil" -- Douglas Hofstadter

Working...