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Scientists Propose Collider That Could Turn Light Into Matter 223

An anonymous reader writes "Imperial College London physicists have discovered how to create matter from light — a feat thought impossible when the idea was first theorized 80 years ago. From the article: 'A pair of researchers predicted a method for turning light into matter 80 years ago, and now a new team of scientists are proposing a technique that could make that method happen in the purest way yet. The proposed method involves colliding two photons — the massless particles of light — that have extremely high energies to transform them into two particles with mass, and researchers in the past have been able to prove that it works. But in replicating that old method, known as Breit–Wheeler pair production, they had to introduce particles that did have mass into the process. Imperial College London researchers, however, say that it's now possible to create a collider that only includes photons.'"
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Scientists Propose Collider That Could Turn Light Into Matter

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  • by stoploss ( 2842505 ) on Monday May 19, 2014 @04:03AM (#47036365)

    But that wont happen because they'll ban the thing over irrational fear before the technology reach the point it can print a cup of earl grey.

    Okay, let's say you want to make a cup of earl grey tea from energy alone. For simplicity's sake, let's pretend you are providing the cup and the only thing you need to create is 250 mL (~8 fl oz for those of us in the benighted US) of pure water at 100 C. I chose 0.95835 g/cm3 as the density of H2O [wikipedia.org] @ 100 C.

    Synthesizing that water from pure energy in a 100% efficient process that magically created only the appropriate molecules would require approximately 6,000 gigawatt-hours [google.com] of energy, aka 2.15E16 J (hooray for e=m*c^2 being on-topic for once in forever). FWIW, the absolute minimum amount of energy required is equivalent to over 5 megatons of TNT [unitconversion.org].

    For reference, the generating capacity of the entire United States is approximately 1,000 gigawatts [eia.gov]. So, uh, in some mythical 100% efficient conversion of electricity to matter it would require the entire generating capacity of the United States for over 6 hours (line losses, oh my!) to produce the water for one cup of earl grey. If you want to stay true to concept, let's say your tea needs to be ready in 5 seconds. Okay, that represents 4.3 petawatts [google.com].

    So, no, I doubt a ban will be what stands in the way of you getting your replicated earl grey.

    Besides, anything that created that much power would be instantly weaponized.

  • by AchilleTalon ( 540925 ) on Monday May 19, 2014 @11:09AM (#47038357) Homepage
    Collide is the correct word for this. When two pool balls are colliding, what prevent them to penetrate each other is the electromagnetic force which maintain the integrity of each ball and they interact by this mean. A collision is an interaction when two things are close enough from each other.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!