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Antimatter: The Most Expensive Substance on Earth

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Who knows its worth?

Antimatter with a tag of about $62.5 trillion per gram, is the most expensive substance on the earth. When groups of individuals are asked to name the most expensive substance, the number of answers are hilarious. Often, the responses are droll ones like love, cocaine, cash money, computer ink. More serious guesses include rare substances like diamonds, uranium & platinum. Some particularly astute people realize that the most expensive substance probably has got to be created artificially by some kind of man-made process. Some good guesses in this area are the artificial elements like ununoctium or unobtanium. Unlike the artificially made substances, however, antimatter has been the target of great attempts to capture & contain it, which greatly rise its cost of production.

What is antimatter?

Most people know that the essential nuclear particles that make-up matter are protons, electrons & neutrons. In 1930, Paul Dirac developed a description of the electron, which predicted that an antiparticle of the electron should exist. This antielectron (also called a positron) was predicted to have an equivalent mass as the electron but of opposite charge. Later, it had been discovered that the opposite basic atomic particles had antimatter counterparts, the antiproton & the antineutron. When a particle & its antimatter counterpart meet, they’re both annihilated, which means that the 2 particles disappear & their mass is converted to energy, following the principle embodied in Einstein’s famous equation E = mc2. As you’ll well know, “c” in this equation is the speed of light, which is a huge number. Because this number is squared, this means that a little amount of mass can often converted to a huge amount of energy. To offer you an idea of what proportion of energy is evolved during a matter or antimatter annihilation, this reaction is taken into account to be 100,000,000,000 times more powerful than a typical chemical explosion like trinitrotoluene (TNT) & 10,000 times more powerful than a nuclear explosion.

How are you able to create antimatter?

To actually create antimatter, scientists focused on the simplest-sort of matter, hydrogen. A hydrogen atom consists of only one electron & one proton. This means that the simplest-sort of antimatter, an antihydrogen, is formed from an antiproton & a positron. The positron is attracted to an antiproton in the same way as an electron is interested in a proton.

The first antihydrogen was made-in 1995 at the CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) super collider by colliding antiprotons with xenon atoms. This collision produces a positron, which is electrically attracted to another antiproton, subsequently, forming antihydrogen. Unfortunately, it only takes a couple of millionths of a second for antimatter particles to come into contact with their matter counterparts, annihilating themselves & giving-off energy. Due to this, scientists have worked on ways to form antimatter stable enough to be contained. The key was to slow the antihydrogens to keep-them from colliding and this was achieved by containing the antimatter in a bottle at just half a degree above absolute zero temperature, the theoretically coldest achievable-temperature. In 2011, scientists were able to hold produced antihydrogen for over quarter-hour (15 minutes) using this method.

What Can It Do?

At the moment, antimatter is expensive & scarce. However, once we create antimatter with at a more efficient-rate & have a secure place to store it, we’ll be given a plethora of ways where antimatter could help in medicine, science & more.

Antimatter is used in medicine in different ways, one includes PET (Positron Emission Tomography). PET uses positrons to create high-resolution images of the body far superior to X-ray scans, which may help us to see certain problems in our body which we may haven’t known, if we used an X-ray. Additionally, Scientists on CERN’s ACE project have studied antimatter as a potential-candidate for cancer therapy.

Furthermore, antimatter can help in many other fields aside from medicine, one among them includes science & space exploration. When antimatter particles interact with matter particles, they annihilate one other & produce energy.

This has led engineers to-speculate that an antimatter-powered spacecraft could be an efficient method to explore the universe as that would provide enough energy to be close to the speed of light or potentially be an equivalent speed as light.

Once we will provide a more efficient method to produce antimatter in an abundance, make the process less expensive & make it easier to store, then mankind will-be able to explore space, create medicines & instruments & more with ease.

In consolidation, antimatter as we know it today is scarce, very costly & hard to store. When the Big Bang occurred, there was assumed to be an equal amount of matter & antimatter to be distributed throughout the universe, however, for some reason, the antimatter & matter canceled one another out, however, matter somehow was dominant. Hence, antimatter has been one among the rarest substances in our universe, which is why a few decades prior we discovered this unique substance.

Day by day, as more research is conducted at various institutes and more & more antimatter is produced (nanograms), then on one day, eventually, we’ll be able to find an efficient method to obtain antimatter in an abundance & be ready to harness its true-potential.

Why are the prices so high?

The reason for antimatter’s tremendous expense is easy to understand, once you realize the technology involved in creating it. To form antihydrogen, the required antiprotons must be literally made one atom at a time using-a particle accelerator. The CERN super collider is the most complex-piece of machinery every constructed by humans. It took a few decades to construct, at a cost of about $4.75 billion. It’s roughly 10 miles across & contains 9300 magnets, all of which must be super cooled to −456.25° F using liquid helium. For the collision to occur, the particles are accelerated to 99.99 percent of the speed of light which needs an incredible 120 MW of electrical power, enough to power large city. The collider features a total budget of about $1 billion per year, with electricity costs-alone running at $23.5 million per year. When you also consider the very fact that it’s been estimated to take 100 billion years to produce 1 gram of antihydrogen, you start to see why the prices are so high.

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