What is antimatter? – How it is produced, importance and doubts resolved
Antimatter is a concept of great fascination for scholars in the field of chemistry and physics. The existence of this planet questions crucial questions about the nature of the universe and has served to be captured in the world of imagination before science fiction.
The study of antimatter dates back to the twentieth century, when the English scientist Paul Dirac theorized the existence of antimatter in 1928, by means of a mathematical equation in which he included Albert Einstein’s relativity and Niels Bohr’s quantum physics.
The first verified experimental evidence was in the year of 1932when the American physicist Carl D. Anderson observed traces of positive particles (positrons) in a cloud chamber.
In this way, Anderson verified that positrons were the antiparticle of electronswhich confirmed Dirac’s prediction, thus generating interest in the study of antimatter.
Definition of antimatter in chemistry
Antimatter refers to subatomic particles, which have an opposite charge to matter particles. An example is antielectrons or positrons, which are antimatter particles with a positive charge instead of a negative one. Similarly, antiprotons and antineutrons are oppositely charged counterparts of protons and neutrons. These particles are known as “antiparticles” and are believed to have the same fundamental properties as particles of matter, but with opposite charges.
At the moment in which they interact antimatter and matter, they annihilate, this process releases gamma rays and other pairs of elementary particles. Atoms made up of antiparticles do not have a natural existence because they are eliminated along with ordinary matter.
How is antimatter produced?
At the moment in which the universe appeared, matter and antimatter arose along with it, where they should have been found symmetrically, however, the reason is not very well known, but antimatter it has been difficult to access. And yet, there is no doubt of its existence.
The recurring question here would be how is antimatter made? And the answer is that the same is created in laboratoriesthrough various processes:
- Radioactive decay.
- The collision of high energy particles.
- The annihilation of particles – antiparticles.
- Through particle accelerators.
All of the above is a consequence of mathematical equations. The scholars of the same were in charge of creating a way to obtain it and observe it through energetic interactions.
As already mentioned, antimatter is generated in laboratories by means of the antiproton decelerator, as has been seen in experiments such as the ALPHA or CERNwhich generate antihydrogen particles.
The problem with these antimatter particles that are produced is that they are ephemeral, since they annihilate when they come into contact with their opposite particles. Thus, an antihydrogen atom is destroyed when it comes into contact with a hydrogen atom. On the other hand, despite the fact that it has many properties similar to those of matter, antimatter remains a great mystery to be discovered.
What is antimatter for?
For science lovers, what is related to the use of antimatter serves to introduce it more and more into the world of science. The scientific advances that are related to antimatter cover many fields of knowledge.
An example are the scans, which can be carried out in medicine and very useful in the biological, oceanographic, geophysical fields, etc. In the same way, thanks to antimatter, today thanks to its role in the field of medicine, it can be analyzed and considered for its use in cancer treatment.
Antimatter scholars affirm that it can become an important element for the production of energy. Which is based on the collision between matter and antimatter, which generates a large amount of energy in the form of light.
A single gram of antimatter releases the energy comparable to that of a nuclear bomb. The reason why it is still not used today is because of the difficulty in storing it.
Finally, there are theories that have inspired for documentaries in which they deal with the possibility that antimatter can explain the Big Bang. For example, the documentary ‘Antimatter: The Lost Secret of the Universe’
What is the difference between antimatter and matter?
The differences between antimatter and matter are:
- The electric charge of the particles in matter particles have a positive or negative charge, while antimatter particles have the opposite charge.
- The antimatter and matter particles they annihilate each other when in contact, releasing energy in the form of radiation. This annihilation property is a distinctive feature of antimatter and has important implications in the field of energy and particle physics.
How important is antimatter in physics?
Antimatter is of great importance in physics and chemistry for its unique properties and more specifically for its relationship with fundamental laws of the universe.
Regarding physics, the study of antimatter has allowed us to better understand the relevant interactions between subatomic particles and symmetries in the universe.
In addition, antimatter has been used in great discoveries in medicine, such as positron emission tomography. (pet).
Which is an imaging technique where it uses the positron annihilation to detect and visualize tumors and metabolic diseases.
What are the properties of antimatter?
The properties of antimatter are similar to those of matter in several respects, but they differ in their electrical charge, since antimatter particles have an opposite charge to matter particles. For example, him antielectron (positron) has a positive charge instead of a negative charge like the electron. Similarly, antiprotons have a negative charge instead of a positive charge like protons.
Antimatter and matter interact through the same fundamental forces as:
- The electromagnetic force.
- The strong and weak nuclear force.
- The gravity.
All of this responds to differences in the electric charge. Antimatter particles have the same masses and spins as their matter counterparts.
Another specific property of antimatter is the destruction of particles and antiparticles. When a particle of antimatter meets its corresponding particle of matter, the annihilation reaction occurs in which both are destroyed, releasing a large amount of energy in the form of radiation. This property has been studied in various experiments and is essential to understand the nature of antimatter and its relationship with matter in the universe.
Where is antimatter found?
As for where is antimatter found in the universe? There are many unknowns and unresolved questions. Although the presence of antimatter has been observed in laboratory experiments and in cosmic phenomena (gamma ray bursts).
The total amount of antimatter in the universe appears to be very low compared to matter. Which raises the biggest unknown in current physics, known as the matter-antimatter asymmetry.
Matter-antimatter asymmetry is a confusing phenomenonAccording to current theories, it is believed that equal amounts of both were produced during the Big Bang. However, observation and study show that the universe is made up mostly of matter, which raises the question of what happened to antimatter.
Is antimatter dangerous?
The idea of antimatter often references images of explosions. catastrophic and disasters, shown thanks to science fiction. However, the reality is that antimatter does not pose an imminent threat or danger to humanity in general.
The annihilation of particles and antiparticles can release large amounts of energywhich can be very dangerous, however, for significant reactions to occur it is very difficult.
For this reason, scientists have developed security protocols so that antimatter can be handled in controlled and safe environments, such as laboratories. These procedures ensure safe and controlled driving of antimatter, which minimizes the potential risk.
It is important to note that antimatter is also found naturally in the universe, but in far too small amounts. For example, the presence of antiprotons and positrons in interstellar space, as well as in cosmic phenomena such as gamma-ray bursts. However, these amounts are tiny compared to ordinary matter.
Antimatter is a fascinating concept in physics and chemistry that has captured the attention of scientists and scholars for decades. Its understanding, study and production have had a crucial role in human understanding about the fundamental laws of the universe and have led to relevant applications in fields such as medicine.
Even though there are still a lot of unanswered questions about antimatter, continued research is bringing us ever closer to understand its nature and its properties. Regarding its danger, the potential risk is minimal, since antimatter is used in controlled environments.