The Antimatter Bomb
When antimatter collides with matter it can end up creating the largest explosion in human history. The Tsar Bomba is the world’s most powerful nuclear weapon it was developed by Russia and has the explosive force of all the explosives that went off during world war two times 10. The antimatter bomb is something any country rich enough could potentially make but it’s so expensive no country has put in the effort. Antimatter is one of the costliest materials in the world. 1 gram of antimatter costs $62.5 trillion according to NASA. However for only $600,000 you could fit a 10 millionth of a gram of antimatter into a snipers bullet. This one bullet would be equivalent to 378 grams of TNT, which is more powerful than a modern grenade.
What Is Antimatter?
Antimatter is the opposite of matter. The sub-atomic particles of matter have the opposite properties of antimatter. Both antimatter and matter were created after the big bang, and the universe should be made up of 50% matter, and 50% antimatter. But antimatter is incredibly scarce, and scientists still don’t know why. For a period of time after the Big Bang there was only energy. The universe began to cool and then expand. Particles of both antimatter and matter were created. Scientists have trouble finding antimatter however it can be created for a hefty price.
When a collision between a particle and it’s opposing antiparticle collide, both of them are annihilated which causes a massive release of energy, otherwise known as an explosion. Since after the Big Bang there was nothing left but matter and antimatter in equal amounts, they should have annihilated everything. Which means we shouldn’t exist, physicists are still unsure as to why we’re around.
The Antimatter Weapons
An antimatter weapon is a weapon which would use antimatter as a power source, a propellant or an explosive. There are many hypothetical antimatter weapons, the most well known of which is the antimatter bomb. Antimatter weapons would be the most destructive and powerful in human history, so why don’t they exist? The only reason they don’t exist yet is because they just so expensive to make. No country has considered it worth it to make one, and even the richest businessmen in the world don’t have the funds to build one. Bill Gates couldn’t afford more than one millionth of a gram. However small scale antimatter weapons are much more affordable, as I mentioned earlier you can create a bullet with a 10 millionth of a gram of antimatter in it for only $600,000. But even this is insanely expensive for only one bullet.
Antimatter is one of the most unstable substances in the world. If antimatter makes contact with any ordinary matter it will explode, this includes air. If antimatter makes contact with air it will cause an explosion. This makes it incredibly hard to store antimatter. In order to store antimatter it has to be kept in a sealed container and held up with magnets so that it floats. This stops it from making contact with matter. Antimatter was successfully stored for the first time in 2010. They did it by creating a magnetic bottle called a Minimum Magnetic Field Trap. It uses a magnet to keep antimatter on the inside from interacting with the walls of the trap and exploding. It was created by an international team of scientists at CERN.
The team is called the ALPHA collaboration. The bottle is called a “trap” because that’s what it does, it traps antimatter. The team can create thousands of antihydrogen atoms in only a second but the trap barely catches any. Different types of antimatter require different types of traps. Antihydrogen cannot be trapped using magnets as it doesn’t have an electric charge. If you wanted to capture antihydrogen without it getting annihilated, then you would have to use something called a loffe trap. This amazing device creates a region of space where the magnetic field gets larger in all directions. The antihydrogen gets stuck in the area with the weakest magnetic field.
Another way of weaponising antimatter is to use it to power spaceships which could potentially be used for warfare. An antimatter powered spaceship would have a higher thrust-weight ratio than ones powered by other fuels, which means it could travel faster. NASA have actually started planning to use antimatter spaceships to go to space. Currently we use fusion not antimatter, however whereas fusion only converts 1% of the fuel’s mass energy into thrust, antimatter can convert 40%. Just one 10 thousandths of a gram of antimatter could send a spaceship to Mars in only 45 days. The NIAC is currently researching antimatter powered spaceships, and according to NASA it looks promising. A positron powered spaceship would be simpler, and less dangerous than say a nuclear powered spaceship which comes with a lot more complications.
What Creates Antimatter?
Antimatter is actually produce by all sorts of things, for instance bananas produce antimatter. Bananas are made out of potassium-40 which produces positrons as it decays. It actually produces one about every one hour and fifteen minutes. The human body also releases antimatter. Both humans and bananas only produce a tiny amount of antimatter, which is why we haven’t all been destroyed. The antimatter we produce collides with matter and gets annihilated without us even noticing.
How Powerful Would An Antimatter Bomb Be?
A 10kg antimatter bomb would cause a gigantic 230 megaton explosion. There is no nuclear bomb that comes close to the power this bomb would have. The antimatter bomb would by far be the most powerful thing humans ever created. The world’s most powerful nuke ever created was the Tsar Bomba. When the Tsar Bomba was tested in Russia it produced such a large fireball that it could be seen from 620 miles away. The height of the fireball was over seven times the height of Everest.
This bomb was only 50 megatons. If you wanted to blow up the planet you could do so by exploding an antimatter bomb near the Earth’s core. However that would require a lot more than 10kg. In fact you would need 2.5 trillion tons of antimatter. This would cause the entire Earth to explode and break into thousands of pieces. In order to reach the core we would have to send it 4,000 miles down.
How Could The Antimatter Bomb Change The World?
One of the scariest things about the antimatter bomb is that the effects of it aren’t as long lasting as a nuclear bomb. This sounds like a good thing at first, but it just means that antimatter weapons could be seen as more politically acceptable, and therefore more likely to be used in warfare. So not only would they be more powerful than nukes, but also more likely to be used on people. Many people have proposed that we disarm all nuclear weapons to make the world safer. But other than this probably being impossible, it may just start the race for the antimatter bomb. As of now an antimatter bomb, large enough to cause any damage, won’t be made because it’s just so expensive to make. However as science progresses it may be affordable to make an antimatter bomb with significantly more power than a nuclear bomb.