The ultimate weapon --- but not in our lifetimes

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by KarlMarx, May 30, 2006.

  1. KarlMarx
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    KarlMarx Senior Member

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    We all have heard about the destructive power of the atom bomb.

    The bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were fission bombs. Those bombs generated energy by splitting the nuclei of Uranium 238.

    The nuclear bombs in our arsenals today are fusion bombs. They generate their energy by fusing Deuterium nuclei (Deuterium is an isotope of Hydrogen) to form Helium. The difference in the mass of Deuterium nuclei and Helium is converted into pure energy.

    The conversion of mass to energy obeys Einstein's famous equation E=mc**2. Where E is the energy released, m is the mass and c is the speed of light (300 million meters/second).

    There is a catch though.... the bombs that we used at Nagasaki and Hiroshima are terribly inefficient. Only a small percentage of the mass of the Uranium or Deuterium is converted into energy. In fact much less than 2% of the mass of these devices is converted into energy.

    However, in theory, it is possible to construct a bomb that would convert 100% of mass into energy, which would create a bigger bang for the buck (couldn't resist using that pun!). This device would rely on matter and antimatter. Matter/antimatter is power source for the starship Enterprise's engines.

    When equal amounts of matter and antimatter combine, they annihilate each other and produce an equivalent amount of energy (according to Einstein's formula).

    The destructive force of a matter/antimatter bomb would make the most potent of our present day nuclear bombs pale by comparison.

    Instead of bombs measured in megatons (millions of tons of TNT) of explosive force, matter/antimatter weapons would be measured in gigatons (billions of tons of TNT).

    All that would be needed to trigger the explosion would be to simply switch off a containment magnetic field that separates the matter from the antimatter.

    So, why don't we have one of these suckers? The reason is simple.... antimatter is extremely difficult to create. In fact, supercolliders which have been in operation since the 1970s have managed to create less than a trillionth of a gram of antimatter....

    So, antimatter weapons exist on paper only, for now....

    BTW... if matter/antimatter energy generation ever became reality.... there would never be an energy shortage ever again......

    a gram of matter combined with a gram of anti matter would create 1,800 Trillion joules....

    enough energy to meet our entire country's current energy needs for many many years!
     
  2. Nienna
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    Nienna Senior Member

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    Very cool, Karl! :) I liked hearing about the USEFUL aspect rather than the destructive aspect.
     
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  3. Mr.Conley
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    Mr.Conley Senior Member

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    It could be a good energy source, but I can't even imagine how you could harness or transport antimatter.

    The problem with antimatter is that if touches anything, and I mean ANYTHING, boom, explosion.

    The basic line is that this is a long, long way off. I doubt anyone over 30ish will live to see it.
     
  4. KarlMarx
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    KarlMarx Senior Member

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    It is contained in a very strong magnetic field so that it can't touch anything. I believe that an antimatter particle will only be annihilated if it meets a like matter particle....

    for instance an electron and a positron, i.e., an "anti-electron", will annihilate and two photons with the energy equivalent of the sum of the masses of the two particles will be produced.

    I believe that no one alive today will see this technology. It may not exist until after our grand children's time, if ever. The problem is in the production of antimatter. Producing Antimatter is very costly and requires a tremendous amount of energy, too.
     
  5. dmp
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    dmp Senior Member

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    Man - forget bombs - they need to invent a StarGate. :)
     
  6. Mr. P
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    Mr. P Senior Member

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    Yeah BUT, what happens when the poles flop? Ka-BOOM?I've heard this flop is in progress, when it may occur I don't know.
     
  7. Mr.Conley
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    Mr.Conley Senior Member

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    Sure, a magnetic field would hold the antimatter in place, but what about the oxygen, nitrogen, argon, etc. in the air?
     
  8. KarlMarx
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    KarlMarx Senior Member

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    it would be contained in a vacuum
     
  9. Mr.Conley
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    Mr.Conley Senior Member

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    But how are you going to create a vacuum, install an electromagnetic field, and then put the antimatter inside all that?
    We can't create "pure" vacuums. Even space has a couple of H atoms every cubic foot. There are always a few particles left, and all antimatter needs is one microscopic spec and boom, the magnetic field is blown out, and with nothing holding the antimatter in place, you suddenly have a very large hole in the ground.

    Then again, this is all extremely far off.
     
  10. Mr. P
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    Mr. P Senior Member

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    So was the atom bomb, hell they didn’t really know they could do that.
    Polio vaccine.
    Satellites.
    Maned space flight.
    The internet.

    The “this is extremely far off” list is very, very long.:)
     

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