Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Antimatter - The most expensive material on earth

Antimatter is essentially substance composed of elementary particles having the mass and electric charge of ordinary matter (such as electrons and protons) but for which the charge and related magnetic properties are opposite in sign.

The existence of antimatter was posited by the electron theory of Paul A.M. Dirac in 1929, where he suggested that the building blocks of atoms, being electrons (negatively charged particles) and protons (positively charged particles), all have antimatter counterparts, being antielectrons and antiprotons. One fundamental difference between matter and antimatter is that their subatomic building blocks carry opposite electric charges. Thus, while an ordinary electron is negatively charged, an antielectron is positively charged (hence the term positrons, which means "positive electrons") and while an ordinary proton is positively charged, an antiproton is negative.

In 1932, the positron (antielectron) was detected in cosmic rays by Caltech scientist Carl Anderson when a positron flew through a detector in his laboratory. This was followed by the discovery of the antiproton and the antineutron which was detected through the use of particle accelerators by Berkeley scientists in the 1950s. Positrons, antiprotons, and antineutrons, collectively called antiparticles, are the antiparticles of electrons, protons, and neutrons, respectively. When matter and antimatter are in close proximity, annihilation occurs within a fraction of a second, and large amounts of energy would be produced as a result.

With the presently known techniques of production, the prevailing market price of one gram of antimatter is approximately US$62,500,000,000,000, thereby making it currently the most expensive material on earth. And if, given the annihilative properties of matter and anti matter in close proximity, antimatter were to be used today for the purpose of producing electricity, the cost from man made antimatter would be approximately US$720,000,000 per kilowatt hour.

According to the “Antimatter Energy” website’s press release number 4 on Coal Power Plants Waste Products dated 14 February 2003, which can be found at the following website:,
it says that in accordance with the U.S. Department of Energy, the United States of America generated 1,968 billion kilowatt hours of electricity in 2000 by burning 900 million metric tons of coal, thereby creating 2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide plus another 360 million metric tons of coal combustion residues of waste in the process. By comparison, an antimatter power plant would use 45 kilograms of antimatter to generate the same 1,968 billion kilowatt hours of electricity. The mass ratio between plants is 25 billion to 1 (2,223 million metric tons/45*2 kilograms).

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