First Antimatter Chemistry
The Athena collaboration, an experimental group working at the CERN laboratory in Geneva, has measured chemical reactions involving antiprotonic hydrogen, a bound object consisting of a negatively charged antiproton paired with a positively charged proton.
This composite object, which can also be called protonium, eventually annihilates itself, creating an even number of telltale charged pions. Normally the annihilation comes about in a trillionth of a second, but in the Athena apparatus (and its very thorough vacuum conditions) the duration is a whopping millionth of a second.
The protonium comes about in the following way. First, antiprotons are created in CERN's proton synchrotron by smashing protons into a thin target. The resultant antiprotons then undergo the deceleration, from 97 percent down to 10 percent the speed of light. Several more stages of cooling, including immersion in a bath of slow electrons, brings the antiprotons to a point where they can be caught in Athena's electrostatic trap. This allows the researchers to study then, for the first time, a chemical reaction between the simplest antimatter ion -- the antiproton -- and the simplest matter molecular ion, namely H<sub> 2</sub> <sup> +</sup> (two hydrogen atoms with one electron missing). Joining these two ions results in the protonium plus a neutral hydrogen atom (see figure at Physics News Graphics).Day 796. Can favoritium be far behind? When CBS codes in antimatter meet the user posts in HTML, after the blinding flash the rest are just cosmic rays. Any... (floooosh) Day.. Now.