Today in news that should please Patrick Stewart, scientists have made big advancements in creating and containing antimatter, the substance needed to power a theoretical starship. Researchers at CERN, home of the Large Hadron Collider, say they have created 38 atoms of antihydrogen and kept them stable for one tenth of a second, more than any other lab. If that doesn’t sound impressive, keep in mind that antimatter and matter, like Highlanders, naturally destroy each other as soon as they come into contact.
“One of the main uses of antimatter would be a starship,” Michio Kaku, physicist and author of Physics of the Impossible, told PC Mag in an interview. “Because you want concentrated energy. And you can’t get more concentrated than antimatter.”
While starships are a long ways off, scientists do think that studying antimatter could provide insights into the creation of the universe. When the universe was formed, it is believed that matter and antimatter both existed, but matter destroyed antimatter.
Kaku believes that antimatter could prove to be the ultimate rocket fuel because it is 100 percent efficient, or all of its mass is converted into energy. Producing large quantities of it is currently impossible, but eventually it may be possible. “These machines were not specifically designed to create antimatter. These machines are all-purpose machines. But with time, price goes down, mass production, better technology, and dedicated machines we could reduce costs considerably,” he said.
Other scientists are not as optimistic about our chances at antimatter space travel, but few deny the appeal of studying these unique atoms. CERN’s next goal is to create a beam of antimatter.