Oh ok, just making sure.
A year or so ago I read a fairly thick tome reviewing the development of the first atomic bombs
. For most of the book it goes through the development of the physics by the scientists at Los Alamos in great detail. It was surprisingly fascinating. And then at the end it hits you with their deployment, the effects on the cities, and the first hand accounts of the survivors. It's absolutely horrible and one of the most depressing reads I have ever had. But altogether something very important to read, I think.
But back to a lighter subject,
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I remember reading that antimatter is created during lightning storms, is that the only natural source we have of it?
It isn't the only natural source on Earth, though it may be one of the most popularly known within the atmosphere. But many types of radioactivity also release antimatter. Even a banana does: about 1 anti-electron per hour, because of potassium-40 decay, which releases positrons (the antimatter version of beta decay which releases electrons). Of course this is such a small rate that it's basically completely worthless except as an interesting academic point. "Bananas make antimatter."
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How much would need to be artificially created to be feasible as an energy source
The amount you make is not the problem. The act of making it is. To create antimatter in large quantities (i.e. outside of the slow rates of radioactive decay) in the lab you are basically exploiting the mass energy equivalence, E=mc2
. For example you can shoot high energy photons near an atomic nucleus, and this can convert the photon into an electron-positron pair. Then you can confine the positrons magnetically.
But in order for this to work, you need to use photons with at least
the mass-energy of the electron-positron pair. So you have to use more energy to create the antimatter than you get back by annihilating it later. This is why it's not a practical energy source, even if we could make a whole lot of it very quickly.
The title "The Manhattan Project" was a funny bit of misdirection to mislead others into thinking the project was actually happening in NY.
Yes the deployment was really sad, the people were vaporized with the only signs remaining of them being either dust or shadows of what they looked like on the walls of buildings or houses. And those were innocent people, not involved with the war, mostly farmers and their wives in children. A couple of years ago I remember reading that the actual reason for dropping the bombs wasn't the stated one of ending the war more quickly, as the Japanese were already going to surrender within weeks, but because they wanted to send a message to Russia that we were prepared to use it. Besides this, there were also the internment camps which were basically prisons for innocent people.
In the Pacific Islands, nuclear tests were being conducted after people were forcibly relocated or the tests were conducted with them still there (for example, Bikini Island- and that word got a whole new meaning after those tests). Not only did the original people who were exposed to the testing develop tumors, but so did their descendants (as well as birth defects), the half-life of the material was so long that region still has very high rates of cancer and birth defects.
After WW2 ended, we brought over Nazi scientists who had been working for Hitler to work for us in the New Mexico desert (Project Paperclip).
I love nuclear physics and reading about the history of it; early on it was used without any precautions, the Curies were pioneers in the study of radium, and back then it was being used in clocks, watches, beads, and even tooth fillings! One of the most fascinating aspects of nuclear physics is that it realizes the dream of ancient alchemists, you actually can convert one element into another!
I chuckled when you mentioned the banana antimatter generator
It reminded me of something I read about being able to create your own particle collider using duct tape haha. The idea of portable particle colliders fascinates me, especially as technology has been shrinking, so it could be possible. I've also watched movies where particle colliders were used as sources of energy, but they have it backwards, it actually takes more energy to collide particles and smash atoms or separate protons into their component quarks than the amount of energy generated from such an interaction- the same way creating antimatter would require more energy than what it would generate? As a matter of fact, the LHC uses antiprotons in their particle collisions.