Though scientists have been able to create antimatter in previous experiments, they have now for the first time discovered a way to trap pure antimatter in a capsule form. The system was not successful in the past because antimatter naturally is impossible to capture in any known container. Realizing this, scientists knew they would have to depend on a brilliant alternative to a container made of any known matter.
The antimatter was made of particles created at the Antihydrogen Laser Physics Apparatus (also known as Alpha). Previously, any time antimatter had been created any attempt to keep it in a container. Essentially the way it worked previously, any bit of antimatter that entered the container would result in both being dematerialized. So for every atom (or anti-atom) that touched an atom of the container, the two would have canceled each other out. The result would have been essentially as though the experiment had never occurred at all, minus a few atoms of whatever unfortunate container had been drafted for the job.
But now scientists have turned to the far more advanced method of capturing the antimatter in a system utilizing an electromagnetic field. The result is a trace amount of the antimatter atoms being suspended without ever touching anything in a vacuum and held in place by electromagnets.
In studying the relationship of these atoms with the world around them, scientists are hoping to either challenge the standard theory or bring about a better understanding of why there is so much matter in the universe, but so little antimatter. Current understandings of the Big Bang event suggest that for every atom of matter created there should be an equal and opposite amount of antimatter, resulting in a void bereft of time and space throughout the universe. So why is there then so much matter? The issue has challenged scientists for quite some time.
But it wasn’t easy to get to that point. Essentially scientists had to fire off ten million antiprotons and seven hundred million positrons. The result? Only around 38 antihydrogen atoms survived and were captured. And in capturing these 38 antihydrogen atoms, scientists are hoping to answer a plethora of questions regarding the standard theory’s interpretation of the matter/antimatter relationship.
And of course on the futuristic fringe of possibility, if we harness the ability to capture and direct antimatter, would it be possible to use such a system in some thus far undiscovered way? Could we one day be facing a world where antimatter rayguns are a real possibility? As antimatter is in its current state fairly difficult to create, and requires extremely controlled environments filled with more machinery than could be wielded effectively we thankfully won’t have to worry about ray gun toting super-villains for quite some time. But for every principle of antimatter that is discovered to be different or opposite from matter, new potential applications are possible. So if at some future date the systems may yield promise in, for example, the field of long distance interstellar communication, fuel, or construction.