Antimatter from Lightning
Now that we know where to find it, can we exploit it?
The textbook FRONTIERS IN PROPULSION SCIENCE (2009) by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, states, “Matter-antimatter annihilation offers the highest possible physical energy density of any known reaction substance. The ideal energy density (E/M = c2) of 9 X 1016 J/kg is orders of magnitude greater than chemical (1 X 107 J/kg), fission (8 X 1013 J/kg), or even fusion (3 X 1014 J/kg) reactions. Additionally, the matter-antimatter annihilation reaction proceeds spontaneously, and therefore does not require massive or complicated reactor systems." The Fox New story below describes how lightning has just been found to produce antimatter. Click here for the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center video on this discovery.
The author of the FRONTIERS chapter on Limits of Interstellar Flight Technology (Robert H. Frisbee of JPL/Cal Tech) states “the most serious feasibility issue associated with antimatter propulsion is the sheer difficulty of producing the antimatter.” I sought the term ANTIMATTER in the Torah Code. It is shown on two matrices at its minimum ELS. The larger matrix employs a row skip of 3. No row split was used on the smaller matrix, which just pairs the axis term ANTIMATTER with LIGHTNING at skip -1. As antimatter could be used for Breakthrough Propulsion Physics, I sought and found BREAKTHROUGH and PROPULSION on the matrix, but I could not find Physics there, only SCIENCE at skip -1. Also on the larger matrix are ROCKET and UFO (at skip 1). Antimatter could be used as a power source for a rocket. If such an energy was seen driving a craft under secret development, the craft would seem like a UFO.
Thunderstorms create far more than just rain. NASA has accidentally discovered that they spit out antimatter, too.
Scientists using the space agency's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have detected beams of antimatter produced above thunderstorms on Earth, a phenomenon never seen before. They believe the antimatter particles were formed during "terrestrial gamma-ray flashes," sharp bursts produced daily inside thunderstorms that are still poorly understood.
Thunderstorms are known to create supercharged electric fields, of course, as evidenced by lightning. But the creation of antimatter is something else.
"These signals are the first direct evidence that thunderstorms make antimatter particle beams," said Michael Briggs, a member of Fermi's Gamma-ray Burst Monitor team at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
Scientists long have suspected that these terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (TGFs) arise from the strong electric fields near the tops of thunderstorms. Under the right conditions, they say, the field becomes strong enough that it drives an upward avalanche of electrons. Reaching speeds nearly as fast as light, the high-energy electrons give off gamma rays when they're deflected by air molecules.
Normally, these gamma rays are detected as a TGF. But the cascading electrons produce so many gamma rays that they blast electrons and positrons clear out of the atmosphere. This happens when the gamma-ray energy transforms into a pair of particles: an electron and a positron. It's these particles that reach Fermi's orbit in space.
Fermi is designed to monitor gamma rays, the highest energy form of light. When antimatter striking Fermi collides with a particle of normal matter, both particles immediately are annihilated and transformed into gamma rays. Now Fermi has detected gamma rays with energies of over half a million electron volts, a signal indicating an electron has met its antimatter counterpart, a positron.
"In orbit for less than three years, the Fermi mission has proven to be an amazing tool to probe the universe. Now we learn that it can discover mysteries much, much closer to home," said Ilana Harrus, Fermi program scientist at NASA headquarters in Washington.
"The Fermi results put us a step closer to understanding how TGFs work," said Steven Cummer at Duke University. "We still have to figure out what is special about these storms and the precise role lightning plays in the process."
STATISTICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE MATRICES. The initial matrix found was the smaller (64-letter) pairing of ANTIMATTER with LIGHTNING at skip -1. There was about 1 chance in 14.8 to have lightning at a special case skip (+1, -1, or the absolute skip of the ANTIMATTER axis term - here 1,673. On the larger (1,073-letter matrix) it was virtually certain that such a match could be found: 1 chance in 1.44. Three-letter words are rarely of much statistical value, especially on a large matrix. UFO (3 letters) was at skip +1, which I consider to be a best case scenario. For such items, I just check the term's frequency at skip +1. There was about 1 chance in 24 for it to be there on the larger matrix. SCIENCE was at skip -1. There was about 1 chance in 4.5 for it to be on the large matrix at a special case skip. ROCKET (3 letters) was not at a special case skip. Much of the value here lies with the 5-letter Hebrew words for BREAKTHROUGH and PROPULSION (I never assign statistical value to the axis term). Their values are determined in accordance with the Roffman Skip Formula and Tables. Combined odds (shown on the bottom figure) for the large matrix were rated at 1 chance in 46,139 (p = .00002167), however this does not factor in words sought, but not found like Physics or the year of the discovery. Note that at the bottom of this page, a matrix is shown with ANTIMATTER, FUSION and LIGHTNING, but I could have used three other Hebrew synonyms for fusion. Antimatter can be used to trigger fission which in turn could trigger fusion. Whatever the true value of the matrix, the real value of the antimatter discovery is that now we have the potential source for an incredible amount of energy for terrestrial or space propulsion needs. This is discussed next.
ANTIMATTER FOR SPACE FLIGHT AND TERRESTRIAL PURPOSES.
The Anti-matter approach can lead to much energy, but as of 2009, when the FRONTIERS OF PROPULSION SCIENCE text was published, only 10 nanograms of antimatter were produced per year. Although Anti-Matter production is not currently efficient, we can use anti-matter as a catalyst. It can be used to lower the activation energy of fission, which in turn can be used to generate fusion Negative muons could be used to generate 16 neutrons in fission rather than the standard 2 to 3. This hybrid approach could allow a 130-day Mars mission (roundtrip with 30 day stop over). It would also be possible to reach Jupiter in a roundtrip in 1.5 years (with 30 day stop over).
Earlier I had mentioned the most difficult feasibility issue - production of antimatter. If it can be captured from lightning, then perhaps this issue can soon be overcome. However Frisbee discusses several other problems that must also be overcome.
The "beam core" antimatter rocket is described in Frisbee's paper, How to Build an Antimatter Rocket for Interstellar Missions - Systems Level Considerations in Designing Advanced Propulsion Technology Vehicles, AIAA Paper 2003-4696, 20-23 July 2003. The thruster combines an equal amount of matter and antimatter (in the form of protons and antiprotons) to annihilate each other to produced high speed products (neutral and charged pions). A magnetic nozzle then directs the charged pions to produce an exhaust velocity of 0.3c. That's about 90,000 kilometers per second (about 55,885 miles per second).
Frisbee stresses proton-antiproton annihilation because the charged pion annihilation products could be deflected to produce exhaust from the engine. He states that electrons and anti-electrons could have been used, however their annihilation products are high-energy photons (gamma rays) which would require massive amounts of shielding material that would only result in very low acceleration.
Storage was also a problem. An Anti-Proton is subject to the space-charge limits imposed on any ion plasma; with current magnet technology this equals about 1010 to 1012 ions/cm3 or 10-14 to 10-12 g/cm3. Electromagnets make storage an expense too. Due to these problems, a rocket may seek to use liquid Hydrogen and solid anti-hydrogen (in floating pellet form). The Anti-Hydrogen must be chilled to 1K (-272.15° C) to avoid contact with container (destruction).
As Ben Franklin use a kite with a key to attract lightning, a maneuverable spacecraft may be able to attract lightning and to collect antimatter. The product could then be used for spaceflight, or with proper storage, it could be brought back to Earth, though the latter idea may be too dangerous in that a crash might release the antimatter into the environment with catastrophic consequences. It might be better to beam the energy produced in space back to Earth if a means can be found to do so without harming the atmosphere. The discovery of a means to produce energy that is free from the polluting effects of fossils fuels, and which bypasses the funding of States often associated with terrorism is certainly worth a significant funding grant. Frisbee mentions that, at least with respect to propulsion, research aimed at addressing problems associated with propulsion was being addressed at "a modest level." Hopefully the new find about lightning will accelerate that research, and with it - us to the stars.