When matter touches antimatter, bad things happen. Getting the two to play well together, or at least store antimatter in a way that keeps it separate from matter, could yield an amazing energy source. Substantial work began this week to do just that.
The work involves constructing an antimatter “trap.” With this trap, physicist Clifford Surko of the University of California, San Diego hopes to overcome the storage issue that would see interstellar ships exploding in space, and replace it with the world’s largest antimatter storage container.
How large? If estimates are correct, each trap would contain some “tens of billions of anti-particles” in an array of cells that he compares to a hotel with many rooms. To keep the antiparticles from touching the sides of the cells, Surko and his team would manipulate them with magnetism and electric fields.
Ultimately, the bottles could be portable, which would greatly increase their real-world potential, as well as the chance that they fall into an evil mastermind’s hands. Either way, exciting times ahead. [MSNBC]