Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Monday, October 04, 2004

Funny Anti-matter "Weapon" Story

Those hilarious guys at the San Francisco Chronicle are at it again! This article, on the possibility of anti-matter weapons, is quite funny; it attempts to make it seem that the Air Force is trying to ban discussion of anti-matter weapons, particularly after some Air Force guy (no rank given, so may be a civilian) "spilled the beans" over the possibility of positron weapons. The writer of the article, Keay Davidson, does a pretty good job handling the science, but gets confused around the fourteenth paragraph and says: "When large numbers of positrons and antielectrons collide, the primary product is an invisible but extremely dangerous burst of gamma radiation." (Actually, I just noticed he made a similar mistake two paragraphs earlier as well.) The mistake, of course, is that positrons and antielectrons are the same thing, as Davidson himself says earlier. I can understand, though, how a poor science writer for a major newspaper would have problems with this sort of thing. (Disclaimer: Yes, I realize how big of a geek I am for bringing up this discrepancy.) My generalization from this is that it seems to me that the more liberal the paper, the less they are likely to have someone who actually understands real science. Do I have any data to back this up? No, but if you'd like, I can find lots of unverified anecdotes...
Another main problem with the story, other than of course its attempt to imply some great conspiracy, is the continuing misunderstanding by the media on the differences between radiation and radioactive contamination. I don't have time to go into this as much as I'd like (MXC is coming on, and I have to write an essay for Frank J.) but trust me, lots of high-energy gammas going around willie-nillie are NOT going to leave the area free of radioactive contamination.... (look up "capture gammas" if you disbelieve me for right now...) [On edit: I just looked at that search, and it's pretty boring; basically, if gammas are introduced into the presence of some elements, it is possible for them to become radioactive. Also, I realized I forgot to mention the main problem with the story -- it does not make any sense! We don't have any way to store anti-matter! Probably won't for centuries! Or at least until we get a Grand Unified Theory! Star Trek isn't real!)

Going deep....

Edited to correct misspellings.


Blogger bothenook said...

please refrain from trying to make sense of anything you read in the sf chronicle. it will only hurt your head

10/08/2004 6:32 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

I know... I guess I just spend too much time on the liberal conspiracy theory sites looking for cheap laughs. You're right, though, it does make my head hurt whenever I try to understand their logic...

10/11/2004 10:39 AM

Blogger Zoe Brain said...

Ummm.. actually we can store antimatter, and have been able to for years. I attended a lecture by the late Dr Robert Forward on the subject back in 1986, and not a lot has changed since then. CERN continues to make antiprotons, and continues to throw them away, when it could store them safely and relatively cheaply.

With work, we could store not just femtogramme amounts, but significantly more in Penning traps. Perhaps milligrammes, much more and there are really serious safety issues to be considered. (Well DUH!) Current lab capability is about 10e10 antiprotons for a week, when we need on the order of 10e25 for a year for anything useful.

Given the infrastructure required, and energy cost of making the stuff, it will be some time before it's useful for engineering purposes.

1/28/2005 7:13 AM

Blogger Unknown said...

Yes, the cost of production of antimatter is currently "prohibitively" high, but if more investment is put into research then the methods of creating antimatter will be perfected and made efficient, lowering costs and increasing its commercial viability.

Therefore, one fine investment in this time of global need would be to stimulate the economy via jobs in exploratory antimatter research.

The future and fruits of successful antimatter research are very impressive. See debate at

6/01/2009 12:38 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

for vthe guy who call the writer stupid for miss-spelling word is not stupid for writing his information on anti-matter weapons.there are 20,000,000 greys on earth today.and thats why they are building the weapons.have you seen 2012?well prepare your self for a rude the othere reports.that were written.ok!these are the web-sites to go to.WWW.THEFORBIDDENKNOWLEDGE.COM
yes aliens are on our plant why do you think the air force is spending so much money to build these wweapons.think about it for a minute ok!!wake-up ok!!!

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