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Adult amphibian in Antilles amber.

Antimatter, antichemistry

Until recently, antimatter--which has the same properties as ordinary matter, but with the opposite electric charge--has made only fleeting appearances in our part of the universe. It is hard to contain, because an antiparticle tends quickly to meet its opposite in a collision that annihilates them both. Lately, however, physicists have managed to keep antiprotons in traps and in storage rings for hundreds of seconds at a time. This has led to several proposals for making anti-elements and anti-molecules. Bogdan Maglich of AELabs, Inc., in Princeton, N.J., presented one proposal that uses his migma device.

The migma device is designed for ordinary nuclear fusion. It has a magnetic field that constrains atomic nuclei to move in a rosette-shaped orbit that crosses itself many times so that nuclei traveling along it have many opportunities to meet each other. In the normal use of migma such meetings can produce nuclear fusions. In this case, Maglich proposes loading the migma with protons and then with an equal number of antiprotons from the antiproton storage ring at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill. Meetings of antiprotons and protons would produce not fusions but annihilations. The annihilations, however, produce other particles, and ultimately, after about 2 minutes, the migma cell would contain an "ambiplasma,' a mixture of protons, antiprotons, electrons and positrons. (The term "ambiplasma' was invented about 30 years ago by the Swedish physicist Hannes Alfven, who proposed that the universe began as an ambiplasma, a theory no longer very popular.)

An ambiplasma made in a migma, Maglich suggests, could become a factory of the simpler antinuclei. As time went on, antineutrons would be produced, and gradual fusion processes could be used to make antideuterium and antitritium as well as antihydrogen molecules. With this beginning, scientists could go on to do what Maglich calls "antichemistry.'
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Title Annotation:40-million year old frog
Publication:Science News
Date:Sep 26, 1987
Previous Article:What a difference the lead makes.
Next Article:Prehistoric syphilis.

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