Magazine article New Internationalist

Making a Clean Killing

Magazine article New Internationalist

Making a Clean Killing

Article excerpt

Sci-fi fans may be familiar with antimatter - the strange mirror to matter - which is often used as a power source in the famous Star Trek series. Recently, investigations by Keay Davidson of the San Francisco Chronicle reveals that the US military is a big fan of Star Trek.

The US Air Force has been quietly researching antimatter for the past few decades and more recently under a special division called 'Revolutionary Munitions'. Their revolutionary mandate ranges from investigating the viability of antimatter-powered engines to the development of antimatter bombs smaller than a Star Trek phaser (laser weapon).

But the real stunner is the Air Force's work on antimatter superweapons which would make nukes look like radioactive firecrackers. It is estimated that one-millionth of a gram of positrons (the antimatter equivalent of electrons which form part of an atom) contains as much energy as 37.8 kilograms of TNT. Not only can they make planet-wrecking bombs smaller and more deadly, but the Air Force is very keen to emphasize their commitment to the environment by stressing that the bombs will be 'cleaner'. …

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