Is Antimatter the Opposite of Matter?

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Fermi GBM Positron Event – Image: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Is Antimatter the Opposite of Matter? The answer is no. Subatomic particles such as the protons and electrons, have specific properties. So do “anti” matter component particles. One difference is their charges are opposite. The equivalent of the negative charged electron is the positive charged positron. Both have equal mass.

Matter and Antimatter Are Not Opposites

An electron and a positron do not merely cancel each other leaving nothing remaining. When corresponding particles of matter and antimatter do come into contact with each other, they are completely converted into pure energy! That energy can be calculated using Einstein’s well known equation,

E = mc²

where E is the resultant energy, m is the total mass of the two particles, and c is the speed of light. The “anti” form of matter is not the opposite of matter. It is a different form of matter. The two forms react violently with each other, each producing exactly half the resulting energy.

It’s Raining Cats and Dogs, Matter and Antimatter

Interestingly, “anti” matter has been found to form in thunderstorms by the Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope. Enjoy this graphic NASA video explaining the effect.

Note: You might also enjoy Muonium: An Atom Similar to Hydrogen, Only No Protons!


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