May 02 2011


Published by at 11:33 pm under Physics

Overwhelmed by the news of Osama bin Laden’s death (and the celebrations thereof — a little surprising to me; good news, yes, but no VE day) is the announcement from CERN that they’ve managed to trap antihydrogen atoms — atoms made from an anti-proton orbited by a positron — for 1000 seconds. That’s over 15 minutes, folks, seriously long term storage as antimatter goes. CERN’s previous record was only 172 milliseconds.

Granted, they only stored 309 atoms. Remembering Avogadro’s number from high school chemistry, that’s still a factor of 10-to-the-20th or so from a gram of antihydrogen, let alone the kilogram of antimatter mentioned in my story “Renee”, (to say nothing of whatever unspecified quantities were used to fuel the USS Enterprise in Star Trek) but it’s an impressive achievement none the less. It’s also enough to do some serious experiments on the more subtle properties of antimatter. For example, does it fall down, or up? They’ll also be looking for charge, parity and/or time (CPT) anomalies.

In the long run, what they find could turn out to be far more significant than the life or death of another criminal, even one who made Ernst Stavro Blofeld (James Bond’s nemesis) look like an amateur.

2 comments so far

2 Responses to “Antimatter”

  1. Amanda McCarteron 04 May 2011 at 7:10 am

    Dangit, I hate it when I miss really cool stuff like this. Thanks for linking it!

  2. Alastairon 04 May 2011 at 8:17 pm

    You’re welcome, Amanda. I try to find neat science news every week, preferably something that sites like Slashdot or Ars Technica have overlooked. There’s some interesting stuff on black holes (tiny ones) that I’ll be posting about soon.