What is Antimatter?

Background

Although it sounds like science fiction, antimatter is real. It is the opposite of matter. Matter is formed from the particles that we see in the world around us – atoms that are made from protons and electrons. The opposite of a particle is called an anti-particle. For the electron, the opposite is the positron. For the proton, the opposite is called the antiproton. In terms of mass and size, anti-particles are identical to particles. The mass of the positron is exactly the same as the electron. The difference is charge. The electron has a charge of -1; the positron has a charge of +1. Entire atoms can be built with antimatter components. An atom with a single proton and electron is called hydrogen. The equivalent in the antimatter world is antihydrogen, which can be built from a single antiproton and a positron. See image below.

Antimatter can be found on Earth, although it will not last very long. Antimatter quickly annihilates with matter. An electron and a positron are found in experiments to annihilate and produce two gamma rays.

On Earth, and our surrounding galaxy, we know that matter greatly outnumbers antimatter. Otherwise we would see annihilation and witness gamma rays. If a particle and its anti-particle are identical with the exception of charge, why is it that regular matter dominates our Milky Way galaxy? This question of asymmetry is an ongoing topic in science to understand why matter dominates. However, it’s worth noting that the photon is its own anti-particle which means that a photon is identical whether it is generated by matter or antimatter. It is within the realm of possibility that a distant galaxy, which we detect as photons (light), could be made of antimatter and generate the same photon. The only way that we would know if the galaxy consisted of antimatter is if it collided with a galaxy made of regular matter, in which we would detect annihilation in the form of gamma rays. This leads to the possibility that matter and antimatter could be in symmetry if half the universe is separated and made of antimatter. Or the other possibility still remains that matter dominates and we need to understand why.

Antimatter

Credit: Popular Mechanics

 


 

Explanation

The single rule in energy wave theory for the motion of a wave center or particle is to move to minimize wave amplitude (Law #4 of Theory Laws). This not only governs all forces, but also particle creation and spin. A particle consists of wave centers that reflect longitudinal waves to create standing waves (see middle section of the diagram below for a standing wave).

When an in-wave and out-wave combines to create a standing wave, there are two nodes for each wavelength where amplitude is zero. Following the rule of motion, wave centers move to the nodes of standing waves to minimize wave amplitude. Particles are a formation of wave centers placed at these nodes. The two possible nodes are separated at a half wavelength, otherwise known as 180 degree phase separation, or what is also called the anti-phase of the wave.

Standing Wave Nodes

 

Particles such as the electron form from a combination of wave centers placed at wavelengths. Within these standing waves, each wave center is stable because the amplitude at the node is zero. In the example above, the electron may be viewed as the purple icon with the negative symbol. By comparison, the electron’s antimatter equivalent is the positron. It is also formed from the same number of wave centers as the electron, but at the opposite node on the wave. In the example above, the positron may be viewed as the black icon with the positive symbol.

Beyond a particle’s radius, waves are traveling in form. There is no standing wave node where wave centers can be conveniently positioned for minimal amplitude. Constructive wave interference occurs for two particles that are placed on the same node (same phase). For example, two positrons or two electrons will be constructive and amplitude will increase between the particles – forcing the particles away to minimize amplitude. Yet a positron and an electron will be destructive and amplitude will decrease between the two particles – attracting the particles as they minimize amplitude. The latter is seen in particle annihilation.

Constructive wave interference

 

Matter consists of electrons, protons and neutrons. The charged particles, however, are the electron and proton, which are on opposite nodes in a standing wave and produce destructive wave interference to be attractive. The charged particles of antimatter are the positron and antiproton. The following summarizes the position of the particle on each node in the standing wave:

  • Positron, Proton – Node #1 (+)
  • Electron, Antiproton – Node #2 (-)

The distinction between matter and antimatter is simply a position of standing wave node