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Name:  Doug A.
Status: student
Age: 20s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000-2001


Question:
Is it possible to store a large number of Protons in a container?

For example, if one stripped, say 1 mol of hydrogen atoms, could they be stored in a container of some sort? Like a sealed electrostatic cylinder or something?

Note that this produces about 96000 Coulombs of charge, which could also be a problem...


Replies:
Doug, I cannot say such a thing is impossible, but let us first consider the amount of force the container would have to exert. For simplicity, treat it as two half-moles, each with a charge of 48000 Coulombs, at a distance of about 1 meter. The force between these two charges, using Coulomb's law is about 2x10^19 Newtons, or close to 4x10^18 pounds. That is a huge amount of force. Imagine what would happen if the container couldn't hold. What do you think would happen to the container? It might explode. Electric force is a VERY STRONG force when the charge amounts get significantly large.

Another problem is keeping individual protons within a container. Most solid materials would allow many of the protons to pass through. Some would grab an electron, coming through as a hydrogen molecule. Some protons would join with atoms of the container, changing the elements the container is made of. Many electrons would be drawn into the container, pairing with the protons you still had. You would need something that pushed protons into the center of the container, but pushed electrons outside the container. The only way to store protons successfully that I am aware of is magnetic. Fast-moving charged particles in a strong magnetic field tend to move in a circle around the field. Nobody knows why magnetic force acts this way, but many particle physicists are grateful for it.

Storage rings can be used for any charged particles, but the most common are electrons, anti-electrons (or positrons), and protons. Their big downfall is they cannot be used for neutrons. Since neutrons have zero charge, magnetic fields will not hold them.

Dr. Ken Mellendorf
Illinois Central College


I am sure that protons can be stored, but to my knowledge, you cannot "put them in a bottle".

They would be stored in a synchrotron or other type of particle accelerator. Here they travel at high speeds in a ring. They are kept "on course, and focused" by electric and magnetic fields. Do a search on www.google.com on the terms: particle accelerator, synchrotron.

Vince Calder



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