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Wed Jun 26, 2013, 08:56 PM

Physicists create tabletop antimatter 'gun'

(Phys.org) —An international team of physicists working at the University of Michigan has succeeded in building a tabletop antimatter "gun" capable of spewing short bursts of positrons. In their paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters, the team describes how they created the gun, what it's capable of doing, and to what use it may be put.

Positrons are anti-particles, the opposite twin of electrons. Besides being created in physics labs, they are also found in jets emitted by black holes and pulsars. To date, the creation of positrons for study has involved very big and expensive machines. One of those is the particle accelerator at CERN. Another is a device built by scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory that created positrons by firing a hugely powerful laser at a tiny disc made of gold. Other recent work by researchers at the University of Texas has involved building a desktop sized accelerator. This new effort builds on that work—this team has built a device not more than a meter long that is capable of generating short bursts of both electrons and positrons, very similar they report, to what is emitted by black holes and pulsars.

To achieve this feat, the team fired a petawatt laser at a sample of inert helium gas. Doing so caused the creation of a stream of electrons moving at very high speed. Those electrons were directed at a very thin sheet of metal foil which caused them to smash into individual metal atoms. Those collisions resulted in a stream of electron and positron emissions—the two were then separated using magnets.

The researchers report that each blast of their gun lasts just 30 femtoseconds, but each firing results in the production of quadrillions of positrons—a density level comparable to those produced at CERN. The researchers suggest their device could be used to mimic the jet streams from black holes and/or pulsars, hopefully offering some answers to questions such as, what sort of proportion of particles are present in such streams, how much energy is in them, and in what ways do the particles in them interact with the environment into which they are spewed.

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http://phys.org/news/2013-06-physicists-tabletop-antimatter-gun.html

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Reply Physicists create tabletop antimatter 'gun' (Original post)
n2doc Jun 2013 OP
still_one Jun 2013 #1
Sancho Jun 2013 #2
shenmue Jun 2013 #3
Orsino Jun 2013 #4
DreamGypsy Jun 2013 #5
Marrah_G Jun 2013 #6
NaturalHigh Jul 2013 #7

Response to n2doc (Original post)

Wed Jun 26, 2013, 09:05 PM

1. Oh no, beam me up Scotty, we all know what happens when matter and anti-matter meet

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Wed Jun 26, 2013, 09:26 PM

2. Glad they were far far away from here...

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Wed Jun 26, 2013, 09:57 PM

3. Yes, but can it shoot gumballs?

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Fri Jun 28, 2013, 11:21 AM

4. Nothing can possibly go wrong with this plan.

(But cool article!)

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Fri Jun 28, 2013, 01:51 PM

5. I understand the physicists at Michigan have been contacted ...

...by the NRA to determine whether the current 1 meter length of the 'gun' could be reduced to make it a candidate for concealed carry.


But, seriously folks, a very interesting development.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Sat Jun 29, 2013, 03:48 AM

6. Pew Pew Pew!!!

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Mon Jul 1, 2013, 12:56 AM

7. I want one of these.

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