Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Review of Antimatter by Frank Close

In a short but packed book Frank Close presents the story of antimatter. The beginning is the Big Bang, but leads us to the Tunguska explosion over Siberia in June 1908. An explosion unlike any ever seen by man. Many theories are considered but Close asks us to consider the possibility that this was an antimatter explosion.

The author takes through a history of the quest for antimatter with physicist Paul Dirac and his mathematical equations. As this history progresses the strange world of subatomic particles are cataloged including one called 'strange'. It is a world of weird and wonderful objects. In the discovering of antimatter it is also learned how rare it is in the universe.

We eventually come to a discussion about how we could contain something that has the potential of coming into contact with regular matter annihilate itself and that matter. If a way of containing antimatter without the annihilation it is possible to explain why we haven't been blown to bits in a massive explosion. In other words, according to one chapter, why is there anything at all?

Antimatter has long been a subject useful in science fiction. Are there practical uses for this material? Is it fantasy to consider its use as a clean energy source, or is research going to produce as the Air Force would like, an antimatter bomb. This book also would give the general reader a better understanding of just what physicists are trying to do at the Large Hadron Supercollider.

For those interested in the subject of particle physics, or for those looking for an explanation of how antimatter works would find this book an intelligent introduction without the need for lots of mathematics. The general reader can make sense of the subject matter but some general knowledge of the subject would make it easier reading.

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