Friday, November 19, 2010

Scientists Trap Antimatter

According to this story, scientists in Switzerland have trapped antimatter atoms.

From the story –
Scientists may have been able to capture elusive atoms of antimatter, but don't expect that to lead to interstellar rocket engines or powerful bombs anytime soon — if ever.

Even as they announced the important advance in studying antimatter, they emphasized that science fiction uses of the stuff — like propelling the starship Enterprise in "Star Trek" or fueling a bomb in Dan Brown's book "Angels and Demons" — remain in the realm of the imagination.

International physicists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, said they had overcome a basic problem in studying atoms of antimatter. While such atoms have been created routinely in the lab for years, they tend to disappear so fast that scientists don't have a chance to study them.

But in a report published online by the journal Nature, the scientists said they'd been able to trap individual atoms and keep them around for a bit more than one-tenth of a second.

To a particle physicist, that's a pretty long time.

"For us it's a big breakthrough because it means we can take the next step, which is to try to compare matter and antimatter," the team's spokesman, American scientist Jeffrey Hangst, told The Associated Press on Thursday.

I wonder how long it will really be before someone figures out how to harness this stuff? With the way that technology continues to rapidly advance, I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens sooner rather than later.

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