Hauling antiprotons around in a van

Hauling antiprotons around in a van
Antiprotons present a unique way to study the radioactive elements produced at CERN’s ISOLDE ion-beam facility.Credit: Julien Marius Ordan/CERN/Nature

A team of researchers working on the antiProton Unstable Matter Annihilation (PUMA) project near CERN's particle laboratory, according to a report in Nature, plans to capture a billion antiprotons, put them in a shipping container and transfer them to a lab that is conducting experiments collectively called ISOLDE.

The antiprotons will be created the same way that they are currently made at what has become known as CERN's antimatter factory, but they will be used in experiments in a nearby building. For that to happen, the antiprotons will have to be boxed up and shipped in a van.

Antiprotons are, of course, the opposite twins of protons—they exist sometimes in nature, but do not last long, because when they come into contact with regular matter, they are annihilated. Researchers at CERN create them by firing a at a metal target—holding antiprotons in a vacuum chamber at just 4 degrees above absolute zero, comparable to , can protect them from annihilation for brief periods.

The PUMA team are trying to learn more about the nuclei of large radioactive atoms, and to that end, want to fire antiprotons at them and then study the remnants after both are annihilated. But for that to happen, the team has to develop a means for transporting the antiprotons from the site where they are created to the site where they will be tested—from one lab to another just a few hundred meters away.

The plan is to create a trap capable of holding a billion antiprotons for up to a week. The team estimates it is likely to take up to four years to get the trap just right. In addition to providing the workers at ISOLDE with a batch of antiprotons, the project will also establish a technique for other teams working at much greater distances. That will give researchers from perhaps all over the world access to batches for use in their own experiments.


Explore further

CERN sets course for extra-low-energy antiprotons

More information: Elizabeth Gibney. Physicists plan antimatter's first outing—in a van, Nature (2018). DOI: 10.1038/d41586-018-02221-9
Journal information: Nature

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Feb 22, 2018
Oh my yes! i can hardly wait for the video on U-Tube. When a traffic cop pulls the van over for, say, driving under the influence of lascivious carriage?

The expression on the officer's face. Getting all twitchy as the driver of the van tries to explain why it would be a bad idea to open the crate in the back.

Amid the SNAFU kludgefest traffic of Geneva and the border.

le plus amusant, j'en suis sûr!

Feb 22, 2018
Willis

You really are a moron.

KBK
Feb 23, 2018
"Running around robbing banks All wacked off of Scooby Snacks!..."

Feb 23, 2018
Amid the usual intellectual voids with tyyping fingers...or cell fones that voice recognize so even the illiterate can have a voice......

How about more research into the ultra cold so large quantities of anti matter could be stored a'la Star Trek. Better yet, look into instant production of large quantitiese of this matter for rocket propulsion, earth to space an back.

Feb 23, 2018
This research has implications for matter/anti-matter energy far into the future even after we achieve fusion.

Feb 23, 2018
How about more research into the ultra cold so large quantities of anti matter could be stored a'la Star Trek.

What's the point?

a) We have no source of large amounts of anti-matter (no: billions of atoms do not constitute large amounts. Not by a long shot)
b) Creating antimatter like the above (and storing it) takes vastly, vastly, VASTLY more energy than you get back when you annihilate it.

Feb 23, 2018
Amid the SNAFU kludgefest traffic of Geneva and the border.

le plus amusant, j'en suis sûr!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkR8JxmfUck

Feb 23, 2018
According to my calculations, annihilating a billion antiprotons with a billion protons would create about 0.300 Joules. Virtually undetectable!

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