archive: SETI FW: Research into antimatter for interstellar propulsion

SETI FW: Research into antimatter for interstellar propulsion

Larry Klaes ( )
Fri, 28 Aug 1998 14:35:00 -0400

Check out the Web site for Antimatter Space Propulsion at
Penn State University:

And then there is NASA's Warp Drive When? site:


From: Bill Wheaton
Sent: Friday, August 28, 1998 12:50 PM
To: Carlos Cardoso
Cc: acc
Subject: Re: Research into antimatter for interstellar propulsi

On Fri, 28 Aug 1998, Carlos Cardoso wrote:

> -- [ From: Carlos Cardoso * EMC.Ver #2.5.02 ] --
> What else is new... ;)
> CERN does the same thing all the time... storing Antiprotons, firing the
> poor guys in relativistic speeds at hard things...
> The problem with antimatter is just one: we need far more energy to produce
> it than the energy it produces. It's not an easy thing to store, also :)

Actual anti-atoms have recently been made and stored for a while. H only,
so far. He is much harder. But at least in principle we can do that.

But even if we had plenty of antimatter, we would still be a long way from
a useful high-speed annihilation-powered vehicle. And the problem is that
the energy comes out in a form that is very troublesome. One of the basic
rules of fast rockets is that it has to be VERY efficient if it's going to
have useful thrust, or else the waste heat will vaporize you. You would
really like something that is not a heat engine at all if you want to
think about speeds above 0.1 c or so. An antimatter rocket cannot be made
efficient (by any way we know yet) because the gamma-rays are such a
nuisance; they go everywhere. And you can't really go fast anyway because
something like half the energy goes into neutrinos and is wasted. It's a
pain, I tell you!

I would not go so far as to say antimatter will not be useful for inter-
stellar travel, or is not worth struggling with; I'm just saying we really
have no idea how to do it, and making and storing the antimatter is not
even the worst part of it.

The trouble with interstellar flight in general is that we have only two
kinds of solutions: methods that look unpromising, and methods that look
even worse! Whether we will do it by one of the methods that now looks
ridiculous, or by some other completely undreamed of method, I haven't the
faintest idea.

:) :) :)

Have a lovely week end, folks!