August 3, 2010

Anti-matter found within Earth

A particle detector located about a mile beneath the Gran Sasso mountain in Italy has detected something extraordinarily interesting.

The presence of antimatter within the earth.

Researchers in Italy found the presence of geonutrinos, the antimatter equivalent of neutrinos (lightweight neutrally charged particles that are created in the sun, and when cosmic rays strike an atom). Antimatter is in essence the polar opposite of matter, for example, where a normal electron has a negative charged for instance, an antimatter electron has a positive charge. Antimatter is formed whenever high energy collisions take place, and upon colliding with matter, will annihilate releasing detectable levels of gamma radiation

Neutrino's, having next to no mass, are incredibly hard to detect by normal means...which is why the detector is a mile underground, away from all other solar radiation. The detector is a massive nylon sphere containing 1,000 tons of hydrocarbon fluid. Around the sphere is a huge array of ultra-sensitive photodetectors that can hopefully spot the neutrinos passing through. And all of that is encased in a stainless steel sphere that in turn is suspended in 2,400 tons of purified water inside yet another steel sphere 59 feet in diameter.

The device was originally built to detect neutrinos from solar radiation, but it was quickly determined that it could also be used to find their anti matter cousins, geoneutrinos.

Geoneutrinos are thought to be the result of radioactive decay of uranium, thorium and potassium inside the Earth's crust (its outermost layer) and mantle (the layer below that, extending to 1,800 miles, or 2,900 km, beneath the surface). Radioactivity falling squarely under the 'high energy collisions' mentioned above.

Apart from discovering the inner workings of the earth, there is a more practical aspect to this discovery. Measuring geonutrinos scientists can learn more about how decaying elements add heat into the Earth's core. Whether radioactive decay dominates the heating in this layer, or merely adds to the heat from other sources, is still an open question. As a result of it's ability to detect heat spikes within the Earth's Core however, this could potentially make for a method of early detection for earthquakes and volcanoes

In spite of my wishes however there is neither enough of the stuff to either make for an energy source, nor for a bomb (ala Angels and Demons), what a pity.

Apologies for the lack of posting, illness got the better of me. Expect more articles soon

Thanks for reading,


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