Friday, September 23, 2011

Travelling Through Spaces From Planet to Planet

Sun-Ra and his Arkestra "We Travel The Spaceways"

Funny thing about memory is how recreational it all is. Things are never as you remember them because you don't store shit like a computer does. (Still another reason why Dickie Dawkin's "meme" concept is complete and utter bullshit). As I recall, I made a $1 wager with an acquaintance as to whether antimatter will fall up or down, and this would be determined by results from the Aegis Experiment at CERN. Seems to me I made the bet about six months ago, when in fact, it was only August 11th.

I had hoped issues would be decided by now, or by the end of the month of September. It doesn't look like it will happen. Meantime, CERN has found evidence that neutrinos may travel faster than light. Didn't see that one coming.

In any case, I started thinking about what if I win that $1 bet? What if antimatter falls up? In other words, what if we discover antigravity? Well, anyone remember the brief cold fusion mania from the early '90s? Fleischman and Pons' experimental setup used a little known metal called palladium (a precious metal similar to platinum) for the electrode. At the time, the price of palladium jumped sharply.

So, all the stuff used for antimatter? Multiply the palladium mania by a factor of a trillion.

Cyrano is off to the Moon!
Well, first of all, how you gonna do it? Space travel with antimatter as your antigravity dealie. Well, something quite similar to what Cyrano de Bergerac did to get to the Moon.  Cyrano collected flasks of dew. When the morning sun's heat evaporated it, he would naturally float up with it straight to the Moon.

Alright, maybe a little more scientific-like, but still, flasks filled with antimatter, or better still magnetic vacuum bottles of it, would repel you from the Earth's mass, and up and away you would go!

What kind of antimatter? I'd prefer something that could be contained magnetically, so that means it's charged. Also, I would prefer it be dense enough, like a solid, or a supercooled liquid, so that I can have a small enough magnetic bottle or bucket, or can to store it. (Because I've got to assume you need a little bit more mass of antimatter than the stuff you want to lift, so if Cyrano weighs 72 kg, I need at least, say 80 kg to lift him up).

What kind of magnetic bottle? Well, one that won't fail would be good. Using Einstein's mass/energy equivalency principle, I figure 1kg of antimatter, combined with 1 kg of matter, produces an an explosion of around 43 megatons. So, a failed bottle containing 80kg of antimatter is, well, oh my!

What is this crazy scheme of mine gonna cost? Well, currently various estimates of anitmatter put it at about $64 trillion for one gram of antihydrogen. Which means getting Cyrano to the moon costs $512 quadrillion dollars. I admit, that's a little steep, but then we aren't producing it in the most efficient way.

Big Ass Van de Graaff Generator
See, what you do, at least the way Fermilab does it is you slam a proton beam into a metal target, or any block of stuff that has a high atomic number (is therefore more dense and has more particles for the protons to slam into. I'm getting ahead of myself. Firwt, make some protons. This is usually done with a Big Ass Van de Graaff generator. The protons produced here are shepherded into a proton synchrotron ring, which accelerates them up to near the speed of light, and then slams them into a metal target.

Baby Synchrotron
Typically, you will get one antiproton for around 200,000 protons slammed into the target. I bet there's room for improvement. Then gather the antiprotons into another magnetic ring until you get a whole bunch of them. Then, you would typically want to cool them down (since they are "hot" as in billions of electron volts hot) into a magnetic bottle called a Penning trap. (You cool them using magnetic fields and lasers and shit. This is way past what Fermilab does or needs to do).

So, then, you just collect them in your magnetic bottle until you have enough, and then, off you go to the Moon.

(I also forgot the part about landing on the Moon. The antimatter is going to repel itself against the mass of the Moon, so I guess, it just collects in the Lagrange points of the solar system, unless we use it up as a propellent).

Hm. Maybe, uh, maybe I need to think this through some more. 

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