As you probably assume, producing antimatter
is very difficult. Even understanding what
antimatter is quite difficult. The simplest way to
describe antimatter is that it is the
"opposite" of matter. In general, we think
that protons and electrons are opposite, but
really they are not. They are all make of quarks,
which therefore makes them matter. Antiquarks are
the opposite of quarks--they have opposite charges
(+/-, but also a "color" charge. This isn't really
a color, just a mathematical way to describe an
additional charge that we can't observe without
very advanced instruments). At this level,
everything is described by math, and may not make
immediate sense outside of a math context.
Essentially, an antiquark is a negative
quark. And an antiparticle is a negative
particle (made of antiquarks).
To make antimatter, you usually need a
particle accelerator. These are huge vacuum
chambers in the shape of donuts with diameters of
miles. Using magnets, the article accelerator
takes a proton or electron or other charged
particle and speeds it up to ridiculously high
speeds. It then smashes the electron (in this
example) into a "target" made of atoms with high
atomic mass (i.e. lots of protons and electrons).
When these atoms are hit, they release packets of
energy. Because there is so many photons are
released in these collisions, some of it turns
into electron-positron pairs (matter is not
created, since +electron -electron = 0).
Isolating this antimatter can be done with magnets
to separate the charges, but it is very difficult.
There are other natural cases which emit
antimatter, like cosmic rays or some kinds of
radioactive decay, but the antimatter generated
here is destroyed quickly. There are,
interestingly, some huge clouds of antimatter in
the galaxy, but very far away from us. It's not
fully known why or how these exist.
John H. Abel
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