Now that the worst fears of potential apocalyptic destruction from the Large Hadron Collider have pretty much turned out to be nowhere near as bad as some people were claiming it would be, scientists are moving on to something that could have somewhat more potential for disastrous outcome.
Plans are in the works for the next big project called the Compact Linear Collider. The big difference with this device is that it’s not going to just accelerate particles to just under the speed of light and send them flying into each other. This one’s going to specialize in colliding electrons and positrons. In layman’s terms we’re talking about a matter – anti-matter reaction. Electrons being particles of normal matter, positrons being the anti-matter equivalent of an electron.
Now I’m sure that anyone who’s watched even a little bit of Star Trek knows that when matter and anti-matter come in contact with each other they cancel each other out, violently, by converting the mass of both into energy. Now I am not a hamster, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that with a total (or even near total) conversion to energy like that, it wouldn’t take very much mass to create the ultimate planetary weight loss pill. I honestly haven’t done the math but I can’t doubt that less than an ounce of anti-matter could conceivably blow the planet to pieces.
Because of this, I have to wonder at the sanity of doing any kind of experiments with anti-matter on a populated planet. Seems to me that we’d all be much better off if this kind of work could at least be done on the far side of the moon or better yet, somewhere in interplanetary space several million miles away from the only habitable planet we know of.
Am I over reacting? Maybe but I prefer to think along the lines of “Better safe than sorry”. That way if something does go horribly wrong we’re all still safe and if it goes right, we’re that much closer to warp drive.
[Tags]antimatter, physics, large hadron collider, compact linear collider, warp drive, bad idea[/tags]