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Thread: antimatter propulsion

  1. #1 antimatter propulsion 
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    Just looking for some thoughts. I know that antimatter, when mixed with matter, annihilates, and produces pure energy. Does anyone know the equations for this reaction? I figure if one can contain plasmatic matter and antimatter, then in a dual chamber containment system, where each chamber is contained by magnetic fields, (each tuned to hold their respective plasma) then using a magnetic 'track' you could shoot the antimatter into the matter, at a mutual point between the two containers that would behave like the combustion chamber for a rocket, ideally (maybe). criticism appreciated.


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  3. #2 Re: antimatter propulsion 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathamatition
    Just looking for some thoughts. I know that antimatter, when mixed with matter, annihilates, and produces pure energy. Does anyone know the equations for this reaction? I figure if one can contain plasmatic matter and antimatter, then in a dual chamber containment system, where each chamber is contained by magnetic fields, (each tuned to hold their respective plasma) then using a magnetic 'track' you could shoot the antimatter into the matter, at a mutual point between the two containers that would behave like the combustion chamber for a rocket, ideally (maybe). criticism appreciated.
    Believe it or not there have been paper studies of antimatter propulsion. I seem to recall that the Air Force rocket lab did some studies like that. Your tax dollars at work.

    The problem is that there is no reasonable supply of antimatter. The accelerator at Batavia produces, at an annual cost of several hundred million dollars enough antimatter to power a light bulb for several hours.


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    which I'm sure could be measured in terms of number of atoms... This isn't a total realistic idea, and not one to be taken as a current experiment. I'd rather postulate ideas that could be implemented later on in human development. Kind of like Fermat's theorem for Mathematics, I'd just like to set an ideal goal, that we could strive to achieve.
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  5. #4  
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    How do they create anti-matter?
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  6. #5  
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    High-energy particle collisions.
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  7. #6  
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    How do they create anti-matter?
    They do by huge particle smashers like the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) that allows particles to whiz around huge tracks and collide together at very high speeds approaching the speed of light. When they collide the shower of particles sometimes produce anti-matter.

    The equations relating to the anti-matter matter collisions is the famous E=mc2 where it is an 100% energy liberation, making it the most efficient process in the entire universe.
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    Antiparticles are created everywhere in the universe where high-energy particle collisions take place, like the LHC. High-energy cosmic rays impacting Earth's atmosphere (or any other matter in the solar system) produce minute quantities of antimatter in the resulting particle jets, which are immediately annihilated by contact with nearby matter.

    The challenge of harnessing the power of anti-matter lies in the substantial costs involved, and the gross inefficiency which anti-matter has been produced to any relative degree. Like Dr Rocket said,

    The problem is that there is no reasonable supply of antimatter. The accelerator at Batavia produces, at an annual cost of several hundred million dollars enough antimatter to power a light bulb for several hours.
    Referring to your design Arcane Mathematician, assuming that we can harness enough anti-matter at a reasonable cost and quantity to use as spaceflight engines, you still need to find means to control the anti-matter and matter interaction where pure energy is produced, and directing the thrust such that it will not instead blow up the rocket itself.

    Perhaps you should consider some of the other innovative spaceflight engines proposed like solar sails. Anti-matter is still way far far off.
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  9. #8  
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    The complete energy would then be

    E(complete) = 2*mc˛ ....since it's always one matter and one antimatter particle, where m is dynamic mass.

    So it's a huge amount of energy set free.
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  10. #9  
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    yes it most certainly is, which is why I would love to see it as a propellant for a space craft. How to utilize it, however, is up for theory.
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  11. #10  
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    Also keep in mind that the majority of antimatter reactions produce neutrinos and other particles that can't really be harnessed to do any useful work (pass through most matter like a ghost). Electron-positron annihilation, IIRC, is your best bet to producing useful work (meaning it produces gamma rays).

    An anti matter rocket still needs reaction mass (ie: something to push out the back). So a reasonable antimatter rocket would probably use antimatter (in a tightly controlled stream) to heat water into steam and eject the steam for thrust.

    Much like a salt water rocket.
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathamatition
    yes it most certainly is, which is why I would love to see it as a propellant for a space craft. How to utilize it, however, is up for theory.
    Using it is not particularly a problem.

    Making it is difficult and expensive.

    Storing it on a spacecraft is a big problem. If it is not contained you are in big trouble -- it eats your space ship.

    You won't live long enough to see antimatter as a practical source of energy for propulsion or anything else.
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    I have faith in modern physics! and besides, I HOPE I will live to see it, as that would be a fantastic leap in modern physics and engineering. I know I will likely never see it, but I would still love to see it.
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  14. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrRocket
    You won't live long enough to see antimatter as a practical source of energy for propulsion or anything else.
    although i agree that we'll not see this form of energy used for propulsion i can think of one thing humans will instantly learn to use it for: a big, big, Really BIG bomb.

    for propulsion in a rocket you need to store something like water in the back to push the craft forward, also you have a hard time storing it. however in a bomb all you need to do is keep a little bit of antimatter in a magnetic feild untill you want it to blow up. you just make a device that can generate a magnetic feild and withstand being in an aircraft for an extended period of time, but which breaks when smashed into the ground. when the thing breaks... well we all know what happens :twisted: . granted, no one wants to see the U.S. or Russia get their hands on that(cold war #2 anybody? no? ok.). but you're insane if you don't think that some human is gonna blow us all up with something along the lines of antimatter.

    i'd love to see an antimatter propulsion system, but i think we're better off trying to generate a warp drive or teleportation system, after all: distance is irrelevant. the force to accelerate the object cancels out the one to decelerate it and thus it's as if nothing happened(and yet the object moved!) didn't the chinese already try something like that, or ami just listening to too much propoganda?
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  15. #14  
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    Quote Originally Posted by saul
    Quote Originally Posted by DrRocket
    You won't live long enough to see antimatter as a practical source of energy for propulsion or anything else.
    although i agree that we'll not see this form of energy used for propulsion i can think of one thing humans will instantly learn to use it for: a big, big, Really BIG bomb.
    Actually it's terrible as a bomb. It's way to easy to have it detonate in the silo, and way too expensive to produce in quantities necessary for a bomb. Other reasons too.

    That said, a thermonuclear warhead with an antimatter starter (instead of an atom bomb starter) would mean essentially no fallout.
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  16. #15 Your Idea 
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    The idea isn't flawed the practice is. If you take into consideration the dynamics of this it would create a very effective energy source. However to use as a propulsion would not be effective. You should use it as a way to power a propulsion system (i.e. Nuclear or electric). If you were able to create a feild from it besides electric you use that field to move through space. I would also assume that if said field was capable of being created it would also generate a form of radiation that would be deadly such as gamma or hawkins. However this would be a great starting point.
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