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CERN Ups Antimatter Confinement Record to 15+ Minutes 206

A team at CERN has vastly increased its ability to confine antimatter, says an article published today at Scientific American. Last year, the same researchers managed to trap atoms of antihydrogen. "But," says the SciAm report, "the antihydrogen had at that time been confined for less than two tenths of a second. That interval has now been extended by a factor of more than 5,000. In a study published online June 5 in Nature Physics, the ALPHA group reports having confined antihydrogen for 16 minutes and 40 seconds. The more relevant number for physicists, who often deal in powers of 10, is 1,000 seconds."
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CERN Ups Antimatter Confinement Record to 15+ Minutes

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  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Sunday June 05, 2011 @07:23PM (#36345780)

    there is no danger of any kind of weapon being built with this kind of technology in the next few decades.

    And you base this on what? Not so long ago, they couldn't store antimatter at all. Going from nothing to something is a bigger hurdle than going from storing small amounts for short times to storing militarily useful amounts for a long time.

    Antimatter is horribly energy-intensive to make, well known stat you can check at wikipedia is at the current production rate at CERN it would take 100 billion years to make a gram of the stuff.

    If someone figures out how to convert electricity to stored antimatter (halflife of storage, say being on the order of decades to centuries) at a 1% efficiency, then the current electricity output of the US (roughly a terawatt averaged over a year) could produce a kilogram of antimatter every 7-8 months or so. That's equivalent to a bit over 40 megatons of bomb (including the kilogram of regular matter which also gets converted to energy).

    Still that's roughly 3 billion usd per megaton of explosive power (just in energy cost at $0.05 per kWh). I see antimatter bombs not filling the roles of the 250kton-1 megaton bombs (or larger), but things on the order of compact 0.1-1 kiloton bombs (useful for shattering deep underground structures). Much cheaper and fills a niche that currently isn't covered by nuclear or conventional weapons.

  • by cduffy ( 652 ) <> on Sunday June 05, 2011 @07:25PM (#36345790)

    The most thorough treatment of the subject I've seen is that of Robert Forward (who did a study on the subject commissioned by the military). His findings were to the effect that if antimatter production were treated as an engineering problem rather than a scientific one, production of useful quantities would be entirely feasible using incremental and reasonably-foreseen advances on existing technology.

    Whether or not you buy his argument in full, there's no doubt that we throw away most of the energy involved in creating antimatter, and much of that needlessly (as we only know how to capture a very small portion of the results). As such, the claim that "there's no changing" the power requirements is false on its face.

  • by Ironhandx ( 1762146 ) on Sunday June 05, 2011 @08:00PM (#36346000)

    According to numerous studies, while its not impossible to be intelligent and believe in god, it automatically deducts about 20 IQ points to have such a belief. Making your claim of believing in god and being intelligent less believable.

The other line moves faster.