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Antimatter bomb?

May 18, 2009

imagesI went to see the schlock film “Angels and Demons” over the weekend, and much of the movie centers around (beyond Illuminati threats, Papal succession, Tom Hanks and the Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer as an Italian researcher) a stolen vial of antimatter that, if it comes in contact with the tube, will level Vatican City and a good chunk of Rome.  However, would this work?  Wired Magazine suggests no:

In Angels & Demons, the antimatter is stolen from CERN, the European Nuclear Research Center. And it’s true – scientists there really have  produced antimatter. But only in submicroscopic quantities. “If you add up all the antimatter we have made in more than 30 years of antimatter physics here at CERN, and if you were very generous, you might get 10 billionths of a gram,” CERN’s Rolf Landua, told New Scientist magazine recently. “Even if that exploded on your fingertip it would be no more dangerous than lighting a match.”

Their website makes it clear that a weapon is not on the cards. “It would take billions of years to produce enough antimatter for a bomb having the same destructiveness as ‘typical’ hydrogen bombs, of which there exist more than ten thousand already,” the site says. “The public somehow anticipates the antimatter bomb, but we have known for a long time that it cannot be realized in practice.”

Still, it might be pretty cool to have an antimatter bomb.

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