Antimatter does matter to your life. A neutron is less than one-millionth the size of a molecule. Yet that particle can influence how the entire molecule behaves.
The same goes for antimatter. It makes up only a small fraction of the universe, but it can affect massive planets and stars.
But what exactly is antimatter? What is antimatter vs matter? Where does it come from, and how can people make use of it?
Answer these questions and you can become familiar with this exciting scientific discovery. Here is your quick guide.
What Is Antimatter?
Matter is what makes up all things in the universe. Particles have mass, electric charges, and other qualities of physics.
Antimatter has these qualities as well. But while matter has positive charges, antimatter has negative charges. This means that when the two particles collide, they annihilate and form energy.
Where Does Antimatter Come From?
Scientists do not know for sure what the causes of antimatter are. Amounts of antimatter are so small that they cannot be seen with the human eye.
The most common sources of antimatter seem to be uncontrollable natural phenomena. When cosmic rays collide with the earth, they may produce antimatter. Certain particles decay and produce small amounts as well.
Is Antimatter From Space?
Cosmic rays travel through space, so antimatter can come from space. But human beings have been able to create very small amounts in laboratories and particle colliders. Potassium and other substances form antimatter in tiny amounts.
How Is Antimatter Stored?
Because antimatter reacts with any type of matter, it cannot be stored through conventional means. Particle coolers and decelerators can “freeze” antimatter using radiation and specialized particles.
This lets scientists examine it for a few minutes. But antimatter will break down in very little time. Antimatter also falls upward, making it hard to keep in a container.
There is no known way of storing antimatter long-term. This makes it very hard to study it and understand what its effects may be.
How Can Humans Use Antimatter?
There are some theories about how humans can use antimatter. The most prominent use is for energy. If it is produced in large enough amounts, scientists can use it to power spacecraft and rockets.
Antimatter may have medical uses. Doctors can send particular beams through tissues into tumors, killing them inside the body. Antimatter provides additional energy that allows individual particles to activate.
The cost of antimatter is enormous. Manufacturing one gram will cost 62.5 trillion dollars. No one should expect antimatter to be available any time soon.
All You Should Know About Antimatter
Scientists are just beginning to master antimatter. It combines with regular matter to form energy.
Cosmic rays and radioactive decay create it, but scientists have made small amounts in laboratory settings. Yet it is very hard to store because it reacts to the containers it is in.
The potential of antimatter is substantial. If humans can make enough of it, it can provide a sustainable source of fuel. But it is expensive, so that will have to wait.
Antimatter is one of many recent developments in science. Find out more by following our coverage.