Antimatter Book Summary - Antimatter Book explained in key points
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Antimatter summary

Frank Close

A must-read classic of modern science

4.5 (291 ratings)
21 mins

Brief summary

'Antimatter' by Frank Close details the discovery, study, and use of antimatter in modern physics, encompassing the history and future of this exotic substance.

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    Antimatter
    Summary of 6 key ideas

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    Antimatter is the mirror image of normal matter.

    June 30, 1908. Far east of Moscow, deep in the remote region of Siberia, something astounding happens. Out of nowhere, an earth-shattering boom. A blast so powerful, it’s visible 700 kilometers away. A heat so intense, it melts silverware 60 kilometers away.

    This is the Tunguska Event. This massive, mysterious explosion releases a burst of energy comparable to a nuclear detonation or meteor strike. Yet, at the time, atomic bombs are decades away and no meteorite is ever found at the site. So what caused this catastrophe? 

    One possibility is antimatter. When this eerie, elusive substance comes into contact with everyday matter, it releases energy on a cosmic scale. Just one kilogram could kick off a reaction 100 times more powerful than nuclear fusion. It sounds like science fiction, but it is very, very real.

    The key message here is: Antimatter is the mirror image of normal matter.

    So, what is antimatter? To answer this question, it’s best to start with normal matter. Normal matter is made up of tiny particles called atoms. These atoms are made up of even tinier electrically charged particles called protons, neutrons, and electrons. In the center of each atom are protons, which have a positive charge, and neutrons, which have a neutral charge. Orbiting the center are electrons, which have a negative charge. A simple atom like hydrogen has a single positive proton at its center and a single negative electron orbiting it. 

    Put simply, antimatter has exactly the same structure, but it’s inverted. An antihydrogen atom is a mirror image of a normal hydrogen atom. It has a single negatively charged proton, or antiproton, at its center, and a positively charged electron, called a positron, orbiting it.

    Matter and antimatter need each other to exist, despite being opposites. Why? Well, Einstein's theory of relativity explains that all forms of matter are essentially energy trapped in a physical form – so an electron is pure energy distilled into a particle. But energy itself is neutral; while it can change forms, it can’t be created or destroyed. So when it congeals into a negatively charged electron, it must also produce the inverse: a positively charged proton. 

    It’s a bit like digging a hole – to delve deeper into the ground, you must always pile up an equal but opposite mound of dirt. However, if matter and antimatter ever come into contact, they eliminate each other. And this elimination releases the huge amount of energy trapped in each substance in one massive gamma-ray burst.

    Quote: “With antimatter, the negative image of matter, we make contact with the gods of creation.”

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    What is Antimatter about?

    Antimatter (2010) is a detailed look at one of the most mysterious and misunderstood topics in physics: antimatter. This accessible guide explains what antimatter is, how it works, and what it can teach us about the universe.

    Antimatter Review

    Antimatter (2009) by Frank Close is a fascinating exploration of the mysterious substance that holds the potential to reshape our understanding of the universe. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • By delving into the scientific discoveries surrounding antimatter, it offers a mind-bending journey that challenges our conventional understanding of reality.
    • With clear explanations and engaging storytelling, Close brings complex concepts to life, making them accessible to readers of all backgrounds.
    • Through exploring the practical applications of antimatter, the book highlights its potential for revolutionizing fields such as energy production and medicine, sparking curiosity and excitement.

    Best quote from Antimatter

    Antimatter could only ever become a practical source of energy if we first found large amounts somewhere, analogous to oil deposits on earth.

    —Frank Close
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    Who should read Antimatter?

    • Stargazers curious about the makeup of the universe
    • Sci-fi fans interested in the facts behind their favorite fiction
    • Anyone who has ever felt flummoxed by advanced physics

    About the Author

    Frank Close is a physics professor at Oxford University, a Fellow of Exeter College, and the former head of the Theoretical Physics Division at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. He’s also the author of the best-selling books Lucifer's Legacy and Eclipse.

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    Antimatter FAQs 

    What is the main message of Antimatter?

    Antimatter explores the mysterious world of antimatter, its implications for our understanding of the universe, and its potential applications.

    How long does it take to read Antimatter?

    The reading time for Antimatter varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Antimatter a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Antimatter is a fascinating read that delves into the complexities of antimatter and its significance in the realms of science and cosmology.

    Who is the author of Antimatter?

    Frank Close is the author of Antimatter.

    What to read after Antimatter?

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