Antimatter, What and How much can I buy for?

Some time during the creation of the universe 13.8 billion years back after the big bang, matter overpowered antimatter. During the early stage after big bang the universe was unstable. Matter and antimatter reacted and obliterated each other in big release of energy repeatedly.


Some how at that time matter won against antimatter and it survived. Since then, whatever we see on planet and around our solar system and space is all matter.

As the name suggests, Antimatter is opposite of matter so like how in normal atom, proton is positively charged and in centre. Similarly, in antimatter antiproton is negatively charged that is in centre. Normal atom has electron negatively charged revolving around proton but in antimatter, positron (positive equivalent of electron that is negative) revolves around antiproton.


Antimatter is showered along by cosmic particles of the sun but its in very minuscule quantity. In order to detect we need to use a satellite, which can create magnetic field. Once the cosmic / gamma rays enter the field, the path of the particles can be measured. Particles travel in 1 direction and antiparticle creates curve in another direction.


Antimatter is formed on high intensity collision of particles. CERN has developed state of the art LHC (Large Hadron Collider) that can accelerate particles at mind bending speed in order to try to observe and solve the mysteries of particle physics which still remains unanswered like Higgs boson particle, origins of big bang, antimatter, etc.


Nuclear bomb for instance can only convert 8 – 10% of its mass into energy on diffusion. On the other hand, antimatter can convert 100% of its mass into energy. This is extraordinary to say at least. To put it in perspective, 1 gram of antimatter, yes-just 1 gram of it is equivalent to the atomic bombs exploded in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. That is insane amount of energy.


The premise of “Angels and Demons” by Dan Brown about blowing up city with quarter gram of antimatter isn’t fictional. It indeed can produce 5000 tons of TNT equivalent energy.

This type of energy, if we can harness well, can solve our energy requirements for good and can even make travelling to distant space not just reality but also at nearly 50% of the speed of light. That is about 150,000 km / sec. Our fastest rocket New Horizon travels at the speed of about 16.26 km / sec.


So why are we not producing this in large quantity? Well, It’s tremendously difficult to produce antimatter and store it. LHC is one of the most expensive and sophisticated facility built by humans till date. It can produce 1 billionth of a gram of antimatter in 1 year. That means it will take 1 billion years with the current pace to develop 1 gram of antimatter.


Cost of 1 gram of antimatter is calculated as 62.5 trillion dollars!!!! That is 83% of total GDP of the world!!!

Hopefully we will invent efficient ways of producing antimatter in future so we can tap the potential of travelling to other stars of the universe.


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