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Q & A: Energy from Anti-Matter

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
Is there a way to harness the energy binding matter and anti-matter together, and if it was possible, would it be violating the law of conservation of energy?
- Jarryd Schmidt (age 21)
Fridley, MN, USA
A:
In principle, yes, it could be harnessed.  Suppose you have a beam of antiprotons from some high energy accelerator. Now inject them into a container of hydrogen gas and surround the container with enough material, water say, that can absorb the radiation that comes from the annihilation of the proton-antiproton interaction. Now the water will heat up and boil and you can run a turbine with that.   Energy is conserved.  The mass loss of the protons and antiprotons is converted into thermal energy of the hot water.  E = mc^2.  

In practice, this would be a pretty costly way to run a railroad. The work output from the turbine would be far less than the energy put into the accelerator.

LeeH


(published on 10/22/2007)

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