Science Behind Angels & Demons, Ctd.

Nerd fight!

Just got this missive from Margaret at SMU’s public affairs office. Don’t you think for a minute they’re going to let UTD have the last word on just how ridiculous Angels & Demons‘ take is on antimatter.

I enjoyed your post today on Frontburner about the accuracy of the science in the new Ron Howard movie Angels & Demons. We asked one of our physics professors, Fredrick Olness, to comment on the movie’s science, and here’s what he had to say:

* While it’s true that the particle physics laboratory CERN has created antimatter, it would take more than a billion years (with current technology) to make the quantity of antimatter described in the movie. If you collected all the antimatter that CERN has ever created, it would only power an electric light bulb for a few minutes.

* It’s true that when antimatter and matter meet, they annihilate into pure energy; however, antimatter is not a source of energy. The production of antimatter is very inefficient, so it takes much more energy to create the antimatter than you get back.

* It is also true that we are able to store antimatter, but scientists don’t actually keep antimatter on the lab shelf. Even small quantities of antimatter are difficult to store. Charged antimatter can be stored in a “magnetic bottle,” but the repulsive force of the antimatter charges greatly limits the quantity. Uncharged (neutral) antimatter cannot be contained by a “magnetic bottle.”

Sweet. Feel smart. But here’s a question: Can you mix matter and antimatter cold? Cue it at 38:35.

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