January 17th, 2012 • 10:20 PM
A Lost Opportunity: The 2004 Proposal For a Joint NASA/NIH Crash Program For Antimatter Research

by Judy Hodgkiss

In April, 2004, researchers on the frontiers of matter/antimatter technology, representing three major laboratories, Los Alamos/CERN/Jet Propulsion Lab, presented what is probably the most optimistic proposal for a crash program for antimatter technological development since its inception (outside the LaRouche movement). The three physicists, M.M. Nieto, M.H. Holzscheiter, and S.G. Turyshev, made their proposal before the NASA/JPL Workshop on Physics for Planetary Exploration, in Solvay, California. They called for a dedicated antiproton source facility to be built by a combination of funds provided by NASA/DOE and the NIH (National Institutes of Health).

The scientists detailed the history of CERN's work in antiparticle production, and its desperate need of a source facility, such as the one proposed to be built by the U.S.; and then, they asserted, that, with the 2002 breakthrough at CERN in the production of antihydrogen atoms (not just antiparticles), that antimatter propulsion for deep space ventures finally became a realistic projection. But what we find most interesting about their report, was their promotion of the joint effort with the NIH, based on the exciting, but little publicized, new prospects of antiproton cancer therapy, a subject which they had to characterize, given their immediate audience, as "not-really- a-side-bar."

The following report will consist of an outline of that 2004 presentation. We caution the reader that the three authors of the report are handicapped by working within the mind-bending constraints of the usual quantum mechanics mumbo- jumbo. And, of course, given those constraints, their projective timetables, based as they are on merely political/ economic variables, are warped by a misestimation of what truly creative work in the field, by scientists freed from the radical reductionist assumptions that have crippled the work so far, could actually accomplish.

The following is taken from "Controlled Antihydrogen Propulsion for NASA's Future in Very Deep Space," Nieto, et al.

From the abstract:

"To world-wide notice, in 2002 the ATHENA collaboration at CERN (in Geneva, Switzerland) announced the creation of order 100,000 low energy antihydrogen atoms. Thus, the concept of using condensed antihydrogen as a low- weight, powerful fuel (i.e., it produces a thousand times more energy per unit weight of fuel than fission/fusion) for very deep space missions (the Oort cloud and beyond) had reached the realm of conceivability. We briefly discuss the history of antimatter research and focus on the technologies that must be developed to allow a future use of controlled, condensed antihydrogen for propulsion purposes. We emphasize that a dedicated antiproton source (the main barrier to copious antihydrogen production) must be built in the US, perhaps as a joint NASA/DOE/NIH project..."

From the Introduction:

"In this century, the development of missions to deeper and deeper space will become an ever increasing priority. [!] To complete a mission within a reasonable time frame, even to the nearest extra-solar system objects of interest, the Oort Cloud or the Alpha Centauri star system (4.3 light years away,) the velocity of the spacecraft needs to be high, up to more than 10% of the speed of light. To achieve this one needs the highest energy-density fuel conceivable. This would be antimatter; a large amount of it and in a compact form. "Antimatter can produce three orders of magnitude more energy per gram than fission or fusion and ten orders of magnitude more energy than the chemical reactions currently used for propulsion..."

From the History of Antimatter:

"The complete breakthrough came after Dirac discovered his relativistic equation for the hydrogen atom, whose solutions precisely agreed with the observed energy levels.

"That is, this equation had four solutions...[ ]

"But the last two solutions had negative energies. This led to a huge controversy which was only resolved when Anderson discovered the positron in 1932. This is an (anti)particle with the same mass as but opposite electric charge as the electron.

"Over the years, the antiproton, the antineutron, and, indeed with the development of modern particle accelerators, all possible forms of antimatter that can be detected have been detected...

"In an intuitive form, the [CPT] theorem says that if one were to take a motion picture of a physical process and if one then were to change the `charges' or `internal quantum numbers' of the particles in the movie (C), run the film backwards (T), and look at it in a mirror after rotating oneself by 180 degrees then one would not be able to tell the difference in the laws of physics being seen. Put another way, this theorem states that every particle has an antiparticle with 1) the opposite electric charge 2) the opposite internal quantum numbers 3) the opposite magnetic moment 4) the same total lifetime, and 5) the same (inertial) mass...

"Most importantly for us, if a particle and an antiparticle collide they annihilate each other. For example, if a positron hits an electron, they turn into two high energy gamma rays, each of energy of the rest mass of one particle, 511 keV...

"Positrons (antielectrons) are now easily created in the laboratory from 22Na sources and controlled in Penning traps [magnetic bottles.] With much more difficulty...antiprotons are created in high-energy accelerators. At CERN in Generva, Switzerland, these antiprotons have been...cooled and stored in Penning traps for fundamental physics experiments.

"However, these particles are by themselves not viable for antimatter propulsion. The storage volume must [necessarily] be small...Thus, charged antimatter is ruled out. This leaves stable, neutral antimatter, i.e., antihydrogen.

"Since...cold antihydrogen has now been produced in the laboratory, it has been argued that a fundamental science program needs to be undertaken to manufacture and control dense antihydrogen, first in the form of a cold dense gas or even a Bose-Einstein Condensate. The long range goal is to eventually obtain condensed antihydrogen, either as a molecular superfluid, a cluster ion, or as a diamagnetic solid. This would allow a compact source of antimatter to be used for deep-space propulsion..."

From Not-really-a-side-bar: Antiproton Cancer Therapy

"Simultaneously with the antihydrogen experiments at CERN, the low-energy antiproton beam from the AD [CERN's Antiproton Decelerator] was being used by the AD-4 collaboration to study the effect of antiprotons on living tissue as a precursor to possible cancer therapy. An advantage of antiprotons over protons or heavy ions is expected from the extra burst of annihilation energy deposited at the stopping point (Bragg Peak.) By proper choice of the beam energy this point can be located precisely inside the tumor volume, giving a higher proportion of destruction to the cancer cells vs. the normal tissue the beam went through..."

From Conclusions:

"It behooves us to now embark on extensive, serious work on the possibilities that are before us. To achieve them quickly it is necessary to set ourselves in motion now."

* Please follow the Commenting Guidlines.

ABOUT THE BASEMENT

The Basement Project began in 2006 as a core team of individuals tasked with the study of Kepler's New Astronomy, laying the scientific foundations for an expanded study of the LaRouche-Riemann Science of Physical Economics. Now, that team has expanded both in number, and in areas of research, probing various elements and aspects of the Science of Physical Economy, and delivering in depth reports, videos, and writings for the shaping of economic policy.

LATEST FORUM DISCUSSIONS

PEDAGOGY PACKAGES

CONTACT THE BASEMENT