A classic staple of science fiction and superhero stories, anti-matter
is matter composed of antiparticles, subatomic particles that have mostly exactly the same properties (mass, intrinsic angular momentum, etc) as your everyday particles, but some properties are inverted: antiprotons are negative, antielectrons (also known as positrons) have a positive charge, antineutrons and antiprotons have negative baryon numbers, etc. In some cases (photons, neutral pions) the particle is its own antiparticle.
Antiparticles do exist naturally; however, antimatter normally only exists for brief moments before coming in contact with normal matter, and it can only be formed as a product of radioactive decay, or when particles collide at very high speeds. When electrons encounter positrons, both particles mutually annihilate and emit gamma radiation. At high energy, they can also produce other stuff. When protons and neutrons encounter antiprotons and antineutrons, they also annihilate, resulting in a star of pions shooting out. These ultimately decay into high-energy gamma radiation. The result of all this pure energy unleashed from mass is many times more powerful than nuclear fusion (relative to its mass; it's the purest example of Einstein's famous equation E = mc2
). Antimatter is often used as either a fuel or a weapon in fiction, both cases due to its high energy potential.
How high energy? Remember that the speed of light in a vacuum (the 'c' in this equation) is 3.00*108
. Converting 1 gram of matter to energy therefore produces 9.00*1013
N*m ~= 90 terajoules. "Little Boy", the nuclear weapon used against Hiroshima
in 1945, was built from 64 kilograms
of uranium and released only 63 terajoules.
As noted on the Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better
page, you have to get something of mass m
whipped up to .87 c
to have the same amount of energy as a matter/antimatter reaction where both the matter and antimatter that you're annihilating have a combined mass of m
This explosive aspect of antimatter is also often explored, usually in the form of planet-annihilating weapons of mass destruction
Alternatively, controlled matter/anti-matter reactions could be used as a source of power: given that it does not naturally occur in useful quantities, it would be something like an ultimate battery - with massed solar or nuclear power or particle accelerators powered by Dyson solar satellite systems
throughout the Milky Way producing the energy needed to synthesize large quantities of antimatter for use as fuel for Faster-Than-Light Travel
, weapons, matter replication
, or any application needing very high energy/power density.
One of the big mysteries concerning the Big Bang has been why there is so much matter in the universe but not nearly as much antimatter, since all known processes for creating massive particles create both in equal quantities. The weak interaction (that describes processes like beta radioactive decay and such — it's also where the now famous Higgs mechanism takes place) explains how a there might be a small imbalance in the amounts of matter and antimatter, but that imbalance is not nearly enough to explain the existence of... nearly everything we care about. The strong interaction (that describes how protons can stick together in a nucleus even if they have positive charge) would be a nice candidate to do it, but that's much more easily said than done. So, yeah, we have no idea.
Don't hold your breath waiting for such marvelous feats of technology, however: antimatter is currently the most expensive stuff on Earth, priced at about $62.5 trillion a gramnote
. Not that a gram of antimatter was ever produced — in fact, so far we don't know how to effectively store it. Put it in any regular container and it would annihilate against its walls. No good. Powerful electromagnetic traps have been devised, but those can only store a billion antiprotons or so. That's one millionth of a billionth of a gram. Ish. More than this would be difficult because all these antiprotons have negative charge, and hate being close to each other. Alternatively, we could store antihydrogen atoms which are electrically neutral, but that also makes those electromagnetic traps much more difficult to use. Still, scientists have been able to store 309 antihydrogen atoms for more than 1000 seconds. Now all we need to do is store one trillion billion (ish) times more hydrogen. No small feat — but Science Marches On
Of course, instances in which a series gets the known properties of antimatter completely wrong
are also not uncommon.
A common form of Unobtainium
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Anime and Manga
- In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Unit 01 shoots down the Alien Geometry Angel Remiel with a giant positronic sniper rifle. The fact the beam should explode as soon as it hits the air is glossed over in the show, but supplementary materials suggest the positrons are "jacketed" with a neutrino field. This makes no sense at all, but let's all just go with it.
- In Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water the engine powering the Nautilus runs on antimatter, in the show described as "particle annihilation." There is a dedication plaque in Atlantian language declaring the Nautilus is actually the starship Eritrium, recycled as a submarine.
- Starships in Crest of the Stars use antimatter as fuel, much as in Star Trek.
- The tendency of antimatter to annihilate air molecules it comes in contact with is actually used in Gundam SEED, where the Cool Ship fires its positron canons ahead of it when heading back into space to clear out air resistance. Called, "Positronic Interface."
- The title Super Robot of Cannon God Exaxxion is powered by an antimatter reactor. According to the Back Story, the aliens who created it were said to have found an asteroid made of the stuff, which they harvested for fuel until its orbit decayed and it crashed into the nearest planet and practically wiped out their civilization.
- Imperialdramon of Digimon Adventure 02 has an attack called "Positron Laser". Like in Evangelion, it's not explained how the beam doesn't blow up as soon as it leaves the cannon. Although in this case, it's more likely to be just a cool-sounding name and the beam has about as much to do with positrons as it does with lasers.
- Antimatter warheads are one of the proposed explanations of the "reaction weaponry" in Macross. Authors stated that they initially wanted to use straight-up nukes, but due to the cultural conventions couldn't show the good guys nuking 'em right and left. So they thought up a fancy new name, and later proposed AM as an explanation (which is really the same, as antimatter annihilation is also a nuclear reaction, just other type than most well-known fusion and fission). Nowadays, as the taboo is weaker, they often just plain call them nukes.
- Xyz monsters of Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL and the card game are made of antimatter, which is a possible reason Dr. Faker believes that the Numbers cards would destroy the universe.
- DC Comics:
- The Justice League's Evil Counterpart, the Crime Syndicate, comes from an antimatter universe. (To travel into a positive universe and back, they must switch the polarities of their particles mid-course.)
- Pre Crisis, the antimatter universe Earth was rather the planet Qward, as the Crime Syndicate lived in one of the matter universes. Post Crisis, both the Crime Syndicate Earth and Qward are worlds in the same antimatter universe.
- In the 1986 Crisis Crossover Crisis on Infinite Earths, an antimatter wave erased several universes from existence- without exploding or disintegrating itself in the process. It was brought about by another antimatter Evil Counterpart too.
- The Marvel Universe has the "Negative Zone" dimension, which is made of antimatter (though there seems to be some positive matter in it as well.)
- Rocky Horror Picture Show: "Yes, Dr. Scott. A laser capable of emitting a beam of pure anti-matter."
- The Giant Claw has an antimatter shield that destroys anything the military fires at it. Why it doesn't explode the air is never addressed.
- A blatant misuse of the term appears in the original 60s Batman film. The villains de-hydrate some of their mooks and smuggle them into the Batcave, where they are re-hydrated. A single punch from Batman or Robin makes them instantly disappear because of flaws in the re-hydration process (they had accidentally used heavy water from the atomic pile). Batman's scientific opinion? They were reduced to "anti matter".
- The plot of Solar Crisis concerns the flinging of an anti-matter bomb to cause a pre-emptive solar flare.
- Asimov's positronic robot brains are retained in some films based on his work (I Robot, Bicentennial Man).
- Isaac Asimov's robots had "positronic" brains, something which Asimov himself would later admit was both ridiculous and impossible once positrons in particular and robotics in general began to become understood. His stories continued to use positronic-robots for years after his admissions, but solely because they were within the already-existing universe.
- Given some of Asimov's descriptions of how positronic brains worked, it would have been entirely reasonable to retcon these positrons as merely holes (in the semiconductor sense) — especially considering that Dirac's view of positrons as "holes in the sea of negative-energy electrons" was still pretty kosher when Asimov started writing his robot stories.
- The initial point of "positronic" brains was that the matter-antimatter interactions would be so quick that they could mimic the speed and complexity of human brains. It's doesn't make sense these days, but it was passable at the time.
- In the Incarnations of Immortality novel "Bearing an Hourglass", Satan sends Chronos on a fantastic journey. Since Chronos lives backwards, Satan claims he has sent Chronos to a Contra-Terrine (i.e. antimatter) galaxy where, Satan claims, time runs backwards so Chronos can interact normally. Chronos himself is protected by his time cloak. It turns out Satan's lying, bigtime. Chronos was really sent to a movie studio Satan owns and interacted with scripted, magical movie sets
- The primary MacGuffin in Dan Brown's Angels and Demons is an Antimatter bomb. Also, read CERN's commentary on the book, it's quite enlightening.
- E. E. “Doc” Smith's Lensman universe had a rather early (late 1930s) example of antimatter bombs, but they worked a little differently than we'd expect. His "Negative Matter" was said to consist of Dirac positrons, had negative mass, and some other properties that perhaps hinted at negative energy. Later research has treated antimatter quite differently. It did still cause mutual annihilation with matter roughly as modern science would expect, however, producing copious amounts of hard radiation in the process. Smith didn't think the implications through, though — the gamma rays were treated as a nuisance side effect, not a far-more-deadly weapon in their own right.
- The Night's Dawn Trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton features antimatter as a crucial plot point. In the setting of the series, antimatter exists in a practical form, usable as an exceptionally high-yield fuel for propulsion, generating energy or blowing things up. Antimatter is so effective, however, that is has been outlawed and carrying, using or manufacturing antimatter is investigated and punished by the Confederation. The ban was put in place when antimatter bombs were demonstrated to be especially effective at destroying planets. Still, black market manufacturing stations produce and distribute antimatter.
- Jack Williamson's Seetee stories were written around antimatter — called "Contra-Terrene" (C.T.) in the stories. In Seetee Shock it is used to fuel a power station broadcasting free energy to the entire Solar System, breaking the back of the corrupt mega-corporation Interplanet. In Seetee Ship concentrations of antimatter (such as the titular spaceship, built by antimatter aliens) are found to have an unusual property; they move backwards through time!note
- Aside from occasional use in weapons and as a power source, Perry Rhodan once featured aliens from an antimatter universe as peaceful but explosive visitors. (The science was a bit dodgy at the time, with any given chemical element supposedly only reacting with its corresponding anti-element...but the destructive potential of unprotected contact was played to the hilt.)
- Positronic computers also see widespread use, again as a clear hommage to the works of Isaac Asimov.
- One Choose Your Own Adventure book involved the Player Character meeting an "antimatter" version of themselves, created as a side effect of the Big Bad's actions. Most of the endings involved the PC and their anti-self touching each other and ending all existence through the violent release of energy.
- In Mikhail Akhmanov's Arrivals from the Dark series, several advanced races use antimatter as their primary (in some cases, only) ship-to-ship weapon. The first novel, Invasion, shows just how superior antimatter is to weapons used up until then by humans: missiles (both conventional and nuclear), plasma cannons, and swarms (like mass drivers but shoot a spread of icicles at high velocity). This forces humans to use this Imported Alien Phlebotinum in later books, although the fourth book, Dark Skies, shows that even plasma can be effective if used in sufficient quantity (i.e. a fleet of plasma-armed ships obliterates a relatively small human battle-group armed with antimatter weapons).
- The books also make it a point that antimatter is never used on a planet, as it would more likely kill you and everyone around you than the enemy.
- The last novel of the series has humans bombarding planets from orbit using antimatter weapons. It takes an hour for a cruiser armed with two turret-mounted annihilators to turn an Earth-like world into a charred rock. The book specifically mentions that this is almost never done, though, as Earth-like worlds are rare, and nobody likes wasting them. The only reason this is done is in an attempt to stop a war with a race of Reptilians by destroying their leaders (they are hardwired from birth to obey a strict hierarchy).
- Interestingly, the novels fail to explain how antimatter weapons can damage Deflector Shields. After all, they're not made of matter and, as such, would not interact in an explosive fashion with antimatter. Antimatter should be as harmless as space dust to shields. So much for an author with a physics background.
- Antimatter is an extremely-dangerous weapon in Andrey Livadny's The History of the Galaxy series of novels. It is a WMD, as it can annihilate armadas, as well as small moons. Apparently, in the 1000 years of using the weapon (extremely sparingly), scientists have not figured out how to control the yield.
- One of the novels, The Backup Spaceport, features new Stiletto-class Space Fighters powered by an antimatter reactor (all reactors before were fusion-based). The difference is that it does not use regular antimatter but the so-called "Vetletsky antiparticles", which only react with tritium. This ensures that, even if antimatter containment is lost during battle, the ship is not destroyed by matter/antimatter reaction.
- In Alastair Reynolds's Revelation Space (and its universe), antimatter weapons are small, hard to get, and extremely destructive; one character has one bomb implanted in his eyes (the eyes are artificial) and could destroy a kilometre long spacecraft with a thought. Small projectile weapons firing shielded antimatter fragments are also known, but seldom used outside of serious conflicts between very well equipped parties.
- Larry Niven's Known Space:
- One story concerns a visit to a planet that - unknown to the explorers - is made of antimatter. In a later book, it is discussed that the crew of a ship armed with antimatter weapons will expend their ammo at the first possible justified opportunity, for their own safety's sake.
- One weapon in the setting, "Silver bullets", use antihydrogen warheads that not only create an explosion, but also flood the ship with neutrons from the destroyed atoms. One kzin who hears about it considers it an idiotic concept, as a ship hit with one would be rendered worthless as a prize.
- In Dragonriders of Pern, the ships that brought the original colonists to Pern had antimatter-fueled drives, and remained in orbit after being stripped of anything useful. This comes into play in All the Weyrs of Pern, when those same two-thousand year old engines are deliberately detonated in an attempt to alter the Red Star's orbit.
- In the Humanx Commonwealth novel The End of the Matter, a Lost Superweapon is used to eliminate the threat of a rogue black hole by summoning a "white hole" composed of antimatter from Another Dimension; the two then begin a process of mutual annihilation over hundreds of thousands of years. It is noted by one of the awed protagonists that it was a good thing they didn't try to set off the device inside the black hole, or the entire process would have occurred at once.
"I've always wanted to see a quasar
, but not from up close!" Science Marches On
- The Sten series has Anti-Matter Two, which is technically not antimatter as we know it but an alternate-universe equivalent with similar properties. It is used to power starship engines and as ammunition in weapons (ranging from the tiny amount in Willygun bullets to the large amount in planetbuster missiles).
- The Uplift series features antimatter beams as merely one of a truly staggering variety of weapons employed by Galactic races. When you have weapons that alter probability or shunt you into another universe, mere antimatter seems tame by comparison.
- The Culture uses CAM - collapsed anti-matter a.k.a. anti-neutronium in their planet-smashing grade weaponry, and as a sort of minefield. It isn't nearly as powerful as their more serious warship-grade weapons such as Gridfire, and does not get used or mentioned after Consider Phlebas, as the later books are set several hundred years later, and technology has marched on.
- Normal antimatter is in common use in smaller weapons; nanomissiles with antimatter warheads are a common drone armament and considered quite distinctive as a Culture device. It is generally only used when combat has already escalated to serious levels... they tend to generate too much collateral damage to be used where there is a risk of civilian casualties.
- The Iln war machines in Matter have systems to generate large enough quantities of antimatter to shatter a shellworld, given enough time.
- In Sergey Lukyanenko's A Lord from Planet Earth trilogy, anti-sodium and anti-helium are used by the protagonist in the second book during a space battle. The enemy ship, however, figures out how to defend against each attack.
- Martin Gardner's The Annotated Alice goes into a rather amusing digression over Alice's concerns about whether or not milk from the Looking Glass world is safe to drink. While much of it is devoted to the concept of Mirror Chemistry (and is indeed one of, if not the most familiar examples of the topic in the popular consciousness), Gardner also speculates that Looking Glass milk could be made of antimatter. Either way, Alice's worries are pretty well justified.
- In The Killing Star, we detect incoming alien speceships by looking for the presence of 0.5 MeV gamma ray photons — photons emitted when positrons and electrons annihilate each other in an antimatter rocket engine.
- The ships in Tour of the Merrimack use antimatter reactors. This poses some tactical problems; you can't shoot down a ship in atmosphere without the risk of causing a massive antimatter explosion.
- Antimatter is used as a power source in Jack McDevitt's Infinity Beach, but it is carefully regulated. The novel begins with a massive explosion apparently caused by antimatter of unknown origin.
- Dread Empire's Fall has this as both fuel and warhead. In fact, missiles burn fuel until they reach their target, and whatever's left goes into exploding. It's one of the few justified cases of Arbitrary Maximum Range. It also one of the factors that contributes to the missiles having a very short tactically-viable range, in conjunction with point defense.
- Antimatter rockets and spiked antimatter/fusion rockets are a popular propulsion method in Robert Reed's Great Ship universe. Since it's so effective at pushing the ships, the ships need only a relatively tiny amount of it for interstellar voyages.
- Some stories from the Star Wars Expanded Universe feature positronic processors (likely an Asimov Shout Out).
- The Flight Engineer by SM Stirling and James Doohan uses antihydrogen as the MacGuffin in a No Blood for Phlebotinum scenario. A religious extremist faction that by virtue of location has a monopoly on a naturally occurring A-H field cuts off all exports to the Commonwealthnote to try and cause Galactic/Societal Collapse. The A-H is so valuable because interstellar travel depends on its use as a fuel in matter/antimatter reactors, and creating the stuff in particle accelerators is prohibitively expensive on the scales required in the series.
- In the RCN universe, the High Drive that provides deep space propulsion for both ships and their missiles uses matter-antimatter annihilation to produce thrust. The reaction isn't complete, though, so it's only used in vacuum, as antimatter that hadn't reacted in the thrust could interact with atmospheric molecules, damaging or even destroying the engines. Due to this, lower-powered plasma thrusters are used for atmospheric maneuvering.
Live Action TV
- An episode of Lost in Space also had an evil counterpart of John Robinson (played by the same actor) from an antimatter universe, but no explosions.
- The Doctor Who serial Planet of Evil also features antimatter treated more as a radioactive substance than an explosive one.
- In another, the Doctor claims that an antimatter explosion will turn everyone into "un-people, un-doing un-things un-together." Which is almost certainly wrong, if only because it's very hard to figure out what it's supposed to mean.
- Easy: It means they're dead.
- Omega, in "The Three Doctors" is trapped in an antimatter universe on the other side of a black hole.
- Antimatter is a common source of energy in Star Trek. In a post-scarcity civilization where matter can be formed out of energy by machines, antimatter retains value due to the fact that replicating it is dangerous.
- Typically, it is used as a fuel to power warp drives and other energy-intensive apparati aboard a starship (such as energy weapons, shields, matter replicators, and base power load for the whole ship). According to the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual, the warp drive is powered by colliding beams of deuteriumnote and anti-deuterium, regulated by a shaped dilithium crystal under extreme heat and pressure into an energy form that can be harnessed.
- On occasion, it's used as explosive energy: 'photon' torpedoes are per canon loaded with this stuff and normal matter, sent over to another ship, and BOOM. Well, they're supposed to, anyway.
- And in the episode "Obsession", it's used for a demolition charge. One ounce of antimatter reacting with matter supposedly produces an explosion that blows half the atmosphere off an Earth-like planet. While the basic idea of an antimatter bomb isn't too far off, the numbers certainly are; in reality, an ounce of antimatter annihilating an ounce of normal matter would, as a bomb, have a yield of only a couple of megatons. You'd need at least some millions of tonnes of antimatter to get the kind of effect they describe. (Kirk mentions to Spock in this episode that he would hope weapons would not get more advanced than this.)
- In Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Alternative Factor", there are two versions of Lazarus, one made of matter from our universe and one made of antimatter from a parallel universe. If they ever get together in either universe, both universes will be destroyed. This would not happen in real life, although you'd get a sizable explosion.
- In another TOS episode, "The Doomsday Machine", the titular planet-eating menace fires a beam that Decker described as "Pure antiproton, absolutely pure!"
- Which should not damage a starship with working Deflector Shields. Antiprotons would have no reason to interact explosively with an EM field (or a graviton field, depending on which fluff explanation you prefer), although they would certainly wreak havoc if they touched the hull underneath.
- In Star Trek: The Next Generation, android Data has a "positronic brain" in a deliberate homage to Asimov. Having Star Trek levels of technology still makes the concept no more plausible, though.
- In "The Best of Both Worlds", Riker's plan to kidnap/rescue Locutus/Picard from the Borg ship involves lighting off an antimatter spread, which is essentially a giant fireworks display to dazzle the Borg cube's sensors and give cover to the infiltration shuttle carrying Worf and Data.
- In the Star Trek: Voyager episode Dreadnought they encountered a Cardassian self-guided missile carrying 1000 kilograms of matter and another 1000 of antimatter, said on the show to be able to destroy a small moon.
- In the season 2 premiere of Warehouse 13, antimatter is stolen from CERN to power one of the villain's inventions.
- In an episode of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, a character is badly injured from contact with a single particle of antimatter.
- In an episode of Eureka, a device is activated by the mere presence of contained antimatter nearby, when both are stored in a bank vault. Apparently a town full of geniuses can't figure out that antimatter by itself is not an energy source nor is it radioactive. It appears to be a greenish liquid stored in a test tube. Unless you want it to blow up, it should be stored in a vacuum environment kept away from the container walls by a magnetic field.
- In Brave Saint Saturn's Anti-Meridian (the third part of a sci-fi Rock Opera trilogy), the crew of the USS Gloria serendipitously discovers a relatively cheap means of producing antimatter. By the album's end, this discovery has solved Earth's energy woes and revolutionized space travel.
- GURPS: Ultratech briefly discusses antimatter. One microgram is enough to vaporize a normal human and incredibly expensive. There are also stats for antimatter bullets.
- A Cthulhu Tech supplement had a weapon fired antimatter at relativistic speeds after burning a vacuum in the air with a laser.
- In Transhuman Space, antimatter is manufactured on Mercury, using solar energy to drive the particle accelerators, and used among other things to catalyse the most advanced fusion drives.
- In Eclipse Phase antimatter is also manufactured on Mercury, and used in strategic weapons and as a power source for the emergency farcaster implant, which makes your head explode when you use it.
- In Starfire, starship missiles can be fitted with ordinary nuclear warheads, or with antimatter warheads. Antimatter warheads are more powerful, but are also much more dangerous to the ship carrying them. If an enemy destroys a ship's missile hold, the unfired nuclear missiles stored in it will simply be destroyed and become useless, but the unfired antimatter missiles in it will detonate.
- Mutants & Masterminds has Negator, a villain who first emerged when his Earth-Prime counterpart got forcibly merged with his counterpart from an antimatter universe (similar to the Crime Syndicate example above). Some scientific credence is given to the concept, noting that if the thin yet resilient force field that keeps the two halves separate yet functioning is ever nullified, bad things happen.
- In one Paranoia mission, the PCs discover a long-forgotten antimatter bomb capable of destroying the entire Complex, and have to keep it away from fanatics who would actually detonate it.
- Antimatter is used in explosives in Schlock Mercenary, usually consisting of minuscule amounts of antimatter encased in fullerene molecules - breaking these up will cause a massive explosion. Most notably, a minor character once smuggled antimatter out of a facility in paper bags. Resident Mad Scientist Kevyn turned his uniform insignia into an antimatter grenade, which when used, destroyed an enemy base, and though indirectly, brought down a spaceship in orbit of the planet.
- Antimatter is considered inferior as both a weapon and a fuel; it's fail-unsafe, warheads using it can't regulate their blast power the way an annie-plantnote can, and neutronium for annie-plants is much easier to make.
- Darwin's Soldiers has an Anti-matter universe. The ability of this universe to interact with our matter universe is dependent on plot necessity.
- Antimatter in Orion's Arm is generated by massive orbital "farms" and usually used in engines. It's considered the fastest form of propulsion that modosophonts can construct, but pales in comparison to the least of the drives that transapients can build, which also tend to be safer.
- Antimatter is central to The Pentagon War. Hyper Bombs require 250 kilograms of positrons, and the starship Mercurand carries 100 tonnes of antihydrogen as fuel.
- Anti matter can be used magically in Chaos Fighters and they are coated with magic to prevent reaction with air molecules.
- Tennyo from the Whateley Universe is half made of antimatter.
- One Scooby-Doo special has an antimatter-powered car explode.
- The Mondays, the evil versions of The Secret Saturdays, supposedly come from an antimatter universe. "Mirror Universe" and causing the laws of physics to become corrupted describes it effectively. And this is a show that actually had some impressive sci-fi concepts.
- The Specialists, of a series of shorts on MTV's Liquid Television, met their antimatter counterparts, who were chromatically opposite but otherwise identical. Typically, the short plays loose with the properties of antimatter.
- Kim Possible shows us that Ron, having been turned into antimatter, makes objects around him disappear when he touches them. To say nothing of how he should have exploded when he came into contact with the air...
- The original Space Ghost cartoons had an episode where a guy was turned into antimatter. Thus, he could not touch anything until he was turned back, lest he explode. Why he didn't explode by simply standing on the floor, as he did throughout the episode, went entirely unexplained.
- PET scans rely on antimatter to work. The subject is injected with a radioactive tracer substance that emits a positron when it decays. When the positrons annihilate nearby electrons in the body, gamma rays are released that the machine can detect.
- According to this article, physicists at Lawrence Livermore Labs have developed a way to create large numbers of positrons by shining the lab's Titan laser at a gold target. They use one of the most powerful lasers ever built to make antimatter. From gold.
- While pure antimatter weapons are still a pipe dream, there has been talk of using antimatter components as a trigger in more conventional nuclear weapon designs to greatly increase their power and/or compactness—perfectly sound as far as the theoretical side goes. Still expensive, but less so than a pure antimatter weapon due to the lesser amounts of antimatter required. Also because a pure antimatter weapon is necessarily fail-deadly, while such a nuclear hand grenade is not.
- One design would require under 150 nanograms of antiprotons for a ship that could make a round trip to mars in 60 days. Large particle accellerators like CERN and the (now closed) Fermilab could make this much in a year, given suitable storage equipment. See here for more details.
- Antimatter in the form of antineutrinos is very common; it can be produced by many nuclear reactions. However, neutrinos tends to ignore normal matter. And when we say "ignore", consider this: The nuclear reactions taking place in the core of the sun produce both light and neutrinos. The light takes somewhere between 10,000 and 170,000 years to work its way to the sun's surface. The neutrinos, on the other hand, exit the sun at the speed of light without interacting with any of the material in the way at all.
- A few centimeters of lead will block half of the incident gamma rays. It would take a few light-years of lead to absorb half the incident neutrinos. On the rare occasions they do interact with normal matter (and with enough of them, they eventually will) they induce a beta-decay in the target (even if it wouldn't normally be able to beta-decay). Neutrinos convert a neutron into a proton and an electron.
- Electron - positron colliders were quite common in physics.
- To study normal matter, physicists like to use particle accelerators. To study antimatter, physicists use an antiproton decelerator.