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Encyclopedia > Antimatter weapon
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An antimatter weapon is a hypothetical device using antimatter as a power source, a propellant, or an explosive for a weapon. Antimatter weapons do not exist outside fiction (such as Star Trek's photon torpedo). The United States Air Force, however, has been interested in military uses—including destructive applications—of antimatter since the Cold War, when it began funding antimatter-related physics research. The primary theoretical advantage of such a weapon is that antimatter and matter collisons convert ~100% of mass into energy while comparatively a fusion reaction in a hydrogen bomb is on the order of 7%. Image File history File links Broom_icon. ... For other senses of this term, see antimatter (disambiguation). ... For other senses of this term, see antimatter (disambiguation). ... Annihilation is defined as total destruction or complete obliteration of an object;[1] having its root in the Latin nihil (nothing). ... For the DC Comics Superhero also called Atom Smasher, see Albert Rothstein. ... Penning traps are devices for the storage of charged particles using a constant magnetic field and a constant electric field. ... Corresponding to most kinds of particle, there is an associated antiparticle with the same mass and opposite charges. ... The first detection of the positron in 1932 by Carl D. Anderson The positron is the antiparticle or the antimatter counterpart of the electron. ... The antiproton (aka pbar) is the antiparticle of the proton. ... The antineutron is the antiparticle of the neutron. ... Image of a typical positron emission tomography (PET) facility Positron emission tomography (PET) is a nuclear medicine medical imaging technique which produces a three-dimensional image or map of functional processes in the body. ... Antimatter or contra-terrene matter is matter that is composed of the antiparticles of those that constitute normal matter. ... The ALPHA collaboration consists of scientists from a number scientific institutions whose goal it is to trap neutral antimatter in the form of antihydrogen in a magnetic trap and consecutively conduct experiments with the trapped antiatoms. ... For other uses, see Athena (disambiguation). ... The ATRAP collaboration at CERN developed out of TRAP, a collaboration whose members pioneered cold antiprotons, cold positrons, and first made the ingredients of cold antihydrogen to interact. ... CERN logo The European Organization for Nuclear Research (French: ), commonly known as CERN (see Naming), pronounced (or in French), is the worlds largest particle physics laboratory, situated just northwest of Geneva on the border between France and Switzerland. ... Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac, OM, FRS (IPA: [dɪræk]) (August 8, 1902 – October 20, 1984) was a British theoretical physicist and a founder of the field of quantum physics. ... Carl Anderson at LBNL 1937 Carl David Anderson (3 September 1905 – 11 January 1991) was a U.S. experimental physicist. ... For other senses of this term, see antimatter (disambiguation). ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... For other uses, see Fiction (disambiguation). ... The current Star Trek franchise logo Star Trek is an American science fiction entertainment series and media franchise. ... // The Star Trek fictional universe contains a very large number of weapons. ... “The U.S. Air Force” redirects here. ... A German Thrash metal band formed in Lörrach, Germany in 1983. ... For other uses, see Cold War (disambiguation). ... A magnet levitating above a high-temperature superconductor demonstrates the Meissner effect. ... This article is about the concept. ...


On March 24, 2004, Eglin Air Force Base Munitions Directorate official Kenneth Edwards spoke at the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts[1]. During the speech, Edwards ostensibly emphasized a potential property of positron weaponry, a type of antimatter weaponry: Unlike thermonuclear weaponry, positron weaponry would leave behind "no nuclear residue", such as the nuclear fallout generated by the nuclear fission reactions which power nuclear weapons. According to an article in San Francisco Chronicle, Edwards has granted funding specifically for positron weapons technology development, focusing research on ways to store positrons for long periods of time, a significant technical and scientific difficulty. is the 83rd day of the year (84th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2004 (MMIV) was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Eglin Air Force Base is the home of the United States Air Force 96th Air Base Wing of the Air Force Materiel Command, and is also headquarters for more than 45 associate units. ... NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts is apparently an organisation within NASA that funds research on advanced concepts, that is, not some boring present day concepts, but exciting future technologies. ... The first detection of the positron in 1932 by Carl D. Anderson The positron is the antiparticle or the antimatter counterpart of the electron. ... The mushroom cloud of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, 1945, rose some 18 kilometers (11 mi) above the hypocenter A nuclear weapon derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions of fusion or fission. ... Fallout is the residual radiation hazard from a nuclear explosion, so named because it falls out of the atmosphere into which it is spread during the explosion. ... An induced nuclear fission event. ... Todays San Francisco Chronicle was founded in 1865 as The Daily Dramatic Chronicle by teenage brothers Charles de Young and Michael H. de Young. ... Technology development is the process of research and development of technology. ... Look up time in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


There is considerable skepticism within the physics community about the viability of antimatter weapons. According to an article on the website of the CERN laboratories, which produces antimatter on a regular basis, "There is no possibility to make antimatter bombs for the same reason you cannot use it to store energy: we can't accumulate enough of it at high enough density. (...) If we could assemble all the antimatter we've ever made at CERN and annihilate it with matter, we would have enough energy to light a single electric light bulb for a few minutes."[2] CERN logo The European Organization for Nuclear Research (French: ), commonly known as CERN (see Naming), pronounced (or in French), is the worlds largest particle physics laboratory, situated just northwest of Geneva on the border between France and Switzerland. ...

Contents

Acquiring and storing antimatter

Antimatter production and containment are major obstacles to the creation of antimatter weapons. Creation of antimatter requires enormous amounts of energy. Even if it were possible to convert energy directly into particle/antiparticle pairs without any loss, a large-scale power plant generating 2000 MWe would take 25 hours to produce just one gram of antimatter. Given the average price of electric power around $50 per megawatt hour, this puts a lower limit on the cost of antimatter at $2.5 million per gram. Quantities measured in grams or even kilograms would be required to achieve destructive effect comparable with conventional nuclear weapons; one gram of antimatter annihilating with one gram of matter produces 180 terajoules, the equivalent of 43 kilotons of TNT. In reality, all known technologies involve particle accelerators and they are highly inefficient, making the production of antimatter much more expensive. It is estimated that an ideal antimatter factory could operate at a cost of $25 billion per gram. A power station (also power plant) is a facility for the generation of electric power. ... MWe and MWt are units for measuring the output of a power plant. ... One million (1,000,000), or one thousand thousand, is the natural number following 999,999 and preceding 1,000,001. ... A megaton or megatonne is a unit of mass equal to 1,000,000 metric tons, i. ... R-phrases S-phrases Related Compounds Related compounds picric acid hexanitrobenzene Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 Â°C, 100 kPa) Infobox disclaimer and references Trinitrotoluene (TNT) is a chemical compound with the formula C6H2(NO2)3CH3. ... One thousand million (1,000,000,000) is the natural number following 999,999,999 and preceding 1,000,000,001. ...


In 2004, the annual production of antiprotons at the Antiproton Decelerator facility of CERN was several picograms at a cost of $20 million. Thus, at the current level of production, one gram of antimatter would cost $100 quadrillion and would take 100 billion years to produce. While since the first creation of antiprotons, production rates have increased nearly geometrically, it is difficult to say whether antimatter production will ever be rapid or cheap enough to enable military uses. Physical laws such as the small cross-section of antiproton production in high-energy nuclear collisions make it difficult and perhaps impossible to drastically improve the production efficiency of antimatter. // Throughout this article, exponential or scientific notation is used. ...


The second problem is the containment of antimatter. Antimatter annihilates with regular matter on contact, so it would be necessary to prevent contact, for example by producing antimatter in the form of solid charged or magnetized particles, and suspending them using electromagnetic fields in near-perfect vacuum. Another, more hypothetical method is the storage of antiprotons inside fullerenes. The negatively charged antiprotons would repel the electron cloud around the sphere of carbon, so they could not get near enough to the normal protons to annihilate with them. The Icosahedral Fullerene C540 C60, C-60 and Buckyballs redirect here. ...


In order to achieve compactness given macroscopic weight, the overall electric charge of the antimatter weapon core would have to be very small compared to the number of particles. For example, it is not feasible to construct a weapon using positrons alone, due to their mutual repulsion. The antimatter weapon core would have to consist primarily of neutral antiparticles. Extremely small amounts of antihydrogen have been produced in laboratories, but containing them (by cooling them to temperatures of several millikelvin and trapping them in a Penning trap) is extremely difficult. And even if these proposed experiments were successful, they would only trap several antihydrogen atoms for research purposes, far too few for weapons or spacecraft propulsion. Heavier antimatter atoms have yet to be produced. Antihydrogen is the antimatter counterpart of hydrogen. ... Penning traps are devices for the storage of charged particles using a constant magnetic field and a constant electric field. ...


The difficulty of preventing accidental detonation of an antimatter weapon may be contrasted with that of a nuclear weapon. In an antimatter weapon, any failure of containment would immediately result in energy release, which would probably further damage the containment system and lead to the release of all of the antimatter material, causing the weapon to explode at some very substantial fraction of its full yield. By contrast, a modern nuclear weapon will explode with a significant yield if and only if the chemical explosive triggers are fired at precisely the right sequence at the right time, and a neutron source is triggered at exactly the right time. In short, an antimatter weapon would have to be actively kept from exploding; a nuclear weapon will not explode unless active measures are taken to make it do so.


Effects of antimatter detonation

Over 99.9% of the mass of neutral antimatter is accounted for by antiprotons and antineutrons. Their annihilation with protons and neutrons is a complicated process. A proton-antiproton pair can annihilate into a number of charged and neutral relativistic pions. Neutral pions, in turn, decay almost immediately into gamma rays; charged pions travel a few tens of meters and then decay further into muons and neutrinos. Finally, the muons decay into electrons and more neutrinos. Most of the energy (about 60%) is carried away by neutrinos, which have almost no interaction with matter and thus escape into outer space. The antiproton (aka pbar) is the antiparticle of the proton. ... The antineutron is the antiparticle of the neutron. ... For other uses, see Proton (disambiguation). ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... In particle physics, pion (short for pi meson) is the collective name for three subatomic particles: π0, π+ and π−. Pions are the lightest mesons and play an important role in explaining low-energy properties of the strong nuclear force. ... The muon (from the letter mu (μ)--used to represent it) is an elementary particle with negative electric charge and a spin of 1/2. ... For other uses, see Neutrino (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Electron (disambiguation). ...


The overall structure of energy output from an antimatter bomb is highly dependent on the amount of regular matter in the area surrounding the bomb. If the bomb is shielded by sufficient amounts of matter, the gamma rays are absorbed and the pions slow down before decaying. Part of the kinetic energy is thus transferred to the surrounding atoms, which heat up.


In any practical form however, the weapon could not simply be a ball of antimatter floating in space. There would have to be a significant amount of supporting hardware surrounding the antimatter. Also, in order to maximize the power of the bomb, it would be designed to mix the antimatter with matter in the least amount of time. The effect of a large antimatter bomb would likely be similar to that of a nuclear explosion of similar size. The reacting antimatter would release about half of its energy in a form immediately available to the environment, superheating the casing and components of the bomb and the surrounding air, and turning it into an ultrahot plasma which then emits blackbody radiation in the full EM spectrum. A quantity as small as a kilogram of antimatter would release 1.8×1017 J (180 petajoules) of energy. Given that roughly half the energy will escape as non interacting neutrinos, that gives 90 petajoules of combined blast and EM radiation, or the rough equivalent of a 20 megaton thermonuclear bomb. It has been suggested that Nuclear explosive be merged into this article or section. ... The joule (IPA: or ) (symbol: J) is the SI unit of energy. ...


Antimatter catalyzed weapons

Antimatter catalyzed nuclear pulse propulsion proposes the use of antimatter as a "trigger" to initiate small nuclear explosions; the explosions provide thrust to a spacecraft. The same technology could theoretically be used to make very small and possibly "fission-free" (very low nuclear fallout) weapon (see Pure fusion weapon). Antimatter catalysed weapons could be more discriminate and result in less long-term contamination than conventional nuclear weapons, and their use might therefore be more politically acceptable. Antimatter catalysed nuclear pulse propulsion is a variation of nuclear pulse propulsion based upon the injection of antimatter into a mass of nuclear fuel which normally would not be useful in propulsion. ... Fallout is the residual radiation hazard from a nuclear explosion, so named because it falls out of the atmosphere into which it is spread during the explosion. ... A pure fusion weapon is a hypothetical hydrogen bomb design that does not need a fission primary explosive to ignite the fusion of deuterium and tritium, two heavy isotopes of hydrogen (see Teller-Ulam design for more information about fission-fusion weapons). ...


Igniting fusion fuel requires at least a few kilojoules of energy (for laser induced fast ignition of fuel precompressed by a z-pinch), which corresponds to around 10 − 13 grams of antimatter, or 1011 anti-hydrogen atoms. Fuel compressed by high explosives could be ignited using around 1018 protons to produce a weapon with a one kiloton yield. These quantities are clearly more feasible than those required for "pure" antimatter weapons, but the technical barriers to producing and storing even small amounts of antimatter remain formidable.


External links

  • Spotlight on "Angels and Demons" A discussion at CERN's public website on the viability of the use of antimatter for energy and weaponry.
  • "Air Force pursuing antimatter weapons: Program was touted publicly, then came official gag order"
  • Page discussing the possibility of using antimatter as a trigger for a thermonuclear explosion
  • Paper discussing the number of antiprotons required to ignite a thermonuclear weapon.

  Results from FactBites:
 
Antimatter weapon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1436 words)
An antimatter weapon is a hypothetical device using antimatter as a power source, a propellant, or an explosive for a weapon.
Antimatter annihilates with regular matter on contact, so it would be necessary to prevent contact, for example by producing antimatter in the form of solid charged or magnetized particles, and suspending them using electromagnetic fields in near-perfect vacuum.
Antimatter catalyzed nuclear pulse propulsion proposes to use antimatter as a "trigger" to initiate nuclear explosions using much smaller quantities of fissile or fusible materials than is presently the case, for the purposes of spacecraft propulsion.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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