Antimatter by Frank Close

Antimatter

 

Hey ya’ll! So, this is probably my last review for 2012! I’m currently reading the 6th Nightside book and the 5th Walking Dead book, but I haven’t been reviewing those sequels, so yeah. I’m glad I got one more science read in for the year!

Antimatter is about – you guessed it – antimatter. If you’re wondering “What the hell is antimatter?” well then you’re in luck – that’s exactly what this book explains.

Basically antimatter is the “opposite” of matter. Matter is made up of atoms, which are made up of particles. There are particles that are antiparticles – antiprotons, antielectrons (called positrons), and so forth. Every particle has an anti- counterpart. It’s theorized that the Big Bang produced matter and antimatter in equal parts, but there is very little antimatter found in our universe – this book attempts to explain where all the antimatter has gone, and to separate the fact from the science fiction.

This book did a good job at trying to explain such a unique concept – well, unique to me, as I haven’t really given antimatter any thought before. Basically antiparticles are almost exactly the same as regular particles, except their electric charge and polarities are reversed – they’re kind of like the mirror-image of the particles that make up our world. For example, an electron has a negative charge – the antimatter counterpart is the positron, which has a positive charge. However, as far as scientists can tell, antimatter is extremely rare in the universe – and whenever antimatter meets matter, they’re both destroyed.

Some of the things discussed in the book were a bit over my head – I’ve read a few physics books lately, but haven’t really gotten too far into particle physics. (Before reading this, you should probably at least have an idea of atoms and what they are composed of – protons, electrons, and neutrons.) Overall though, I was able to understand what antimatter is, why scientists think that there is hardly any left, and why it’s unlikely that antimatter will ever be used as a weapon or power source here on earth.

I highly recommend reading this if you’re even the littlest bit curious about antimatter, if you’ve read Angels & Demons by Dan Brown (which apparently mislead a lot of people about what is plausible about antimatter), or if you’re a Star Trek fan hoping that antimatter will be the fuel that gets us into deep space. This was a concise and relatively easy-to-understand book about an interesting topic.

 

Sarah Says: 3.5 stars

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