Questions on Anti-matter
I am very interested in anti-matter. How is it stored, what are its p
properties, charges, etc. Are there actual elements made completely of a
anti-matter, or is is just another state of matter?
Anti-matter is just like ordinary matter (same masses of all the
particles, same kinds of nuclei and elements) but with all the
charges reversed, so the anti-electron (the positron) has a positive
charge and the anti-proton has a negative charge (the anti-neutron
is neutral like the ordinary neutron, but is itself composed of
quarks of the opposed kind to those in the regular neutron).
I think the only place it is made in quantity is at big particle
accelerators like Fermilab. They store it in big "storage rings"
that use magnets to keep the anti-protons or positrons in little
bunches inside of a big tube (which is continually pumped to
provide a vacuum so that ordinary matter does not get in and annihilate
the anti-matter). It is also possible to store anti-matter in other
kinds of electrical or magnetic "traps". I am not sure anybody's
actually made much of any kind of anti-matter other than
anti-hydrogen (to make heavier elements requires fusion, which
is hard enough to do even for regular matter).
Click here to return to the Physics Archives
Update: June 2012