Today’s Top Science Headline: CERN’s ‘Science-Fiction’ Mission –“Notoriously Volatile Antimatter Project” (WATCH Video)

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“It’s almost science fiction to be driving around antimatter in a truck,” says Charles Horowitz, a theoretical nuclear physicist at Indiana University Bloomington. “It’s a wonderful idea.”


Antimatter is notoriously volatile, but physicists have learned to control it so well that they are now starting to harness it as a tool for the first time reported the journal Nature. In a project that began last month, researchers will transport antimatter by truck and then use it to study the strange behavior of rare radioactive nuclei. The work aims to provide a better understanding of fundamental processes inside atomic nuclei and to help astrophysicists learn about the interiors of neutron stars, which contain the densest form of matter in the Universe.

 

“Antimatter has long been studied for itself, but now it is mastered well enough that people can start to use it as a probe for matter,” says Alexandre Obertelli, a physicist at the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany, who leads the project, known as PUMA (antiProton Unstable Matter Annihilation), which will take place at CERN, Europe’s particle physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland.

At CERNs ISOLDE, these antiprotons will be used in experiments to better understand neutron stars, which are the collapsed cores of large stars. Antimatter could be the key to better understanding these distant objects as well as many mysteries of the cosmos, like why there is so much more matter than antimatter in the universe and what dark matter is made of.

 

 

A few years back, the world needlessly worried that the LHC experiments might create "mini black holes" that potential to destroy Earth, Today at CERN, particle collision experiments frequently produce antimatter, which explodes at contact with its matter counterpart. In a new project, researchers are working to transport antimatter for the first time.

Like the parents of a newborn baby preparing for the first car trip, reports Futurism, particle physicists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) are taking every precaution in preparing to transport antimatter on its first ride.

Researchers intend to transport the elusive material between labs and use it to study the strange behavior of rare radioactive nuclei.

CERN’s antimatter factory makes antiprotons — the rare mirror image of protons — by slamming a proton beam into a metal target, then dramatically slowing the emerging antiparticles so they can be used in experiments. Obertelli and his colleagues plan to use magnetic and electric fields to trap a cloud of antiprotons in a vacuum (see ‘Antimatter to go’).

Then they will load the trap into a van and drive it a few hundred metres to the site of a neighboring experiment, known as ISOLDE, that produces rare, radioactive atomic nuclei that decay too quickly to be transported anywhere themselves.

The PUMA project will take antimatter on its first journey. While that may only be a few hundred meters from its starting position, to the site of a nearby project known as ISOLDE, the trip will require at least four years of intensive research and preparation.

To complete this grand voyage, CERN researchers are developing a technique in which they “lock” antiprotons in a “bottle.” Obviously, the antimatter can not touch the sides of the container, so they would instead be suspended by magnetic and electric fields in a vacuum, not unlike the vacuum of space.

The trap design so far would be able to store one billion antiprotons at one time, which is over 100 times more than existing technologies allow for. Even further, this “bottle” would be able to store the antiprotons for weeks at a time, allowing for a slow and secure moving process.

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