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Question:
I am very interested in anti-matter. How is it stored, what are its p properties, charges, etc. Are there actual elements made completely of a anti-matter, or is is just another state of matter?



Replies:
Anti-matter is just like ordinary matter (same masses of all the particles, same kinds of nuclei and elements) but with all the charges reversed, so the anti-electron (the positron) has a positive charge and the anti-proton has a negative charge (the anti-neutron is neutral like the ordinary neutron, but is itself composed of quarks of the opposed kind to those in the regular neutron). I think the only place it is made in quantity is at big particle accelerators like Fermilab. They store it in big "storage rings" that use magnets to keep the anti-protons or positrons in little bunches inside of a big tube (which is continually pumped to provide a vacuum so that ordinary matter does not get in and annihilate the anti-matter). It is also possible to store anti-matter in other kinds of electrical or magnetic "traps". I am not sure anybody's actually made much of any kind of anti-matter other than anti-hydrogen (to make heavier elements requires fusion, which is hard enough to do even for regular matter).

Arthur Smith



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