What exactly happens with Antimatter in EVE?


(Teinyhr) #1

Insipired by this post, I started wondering why the explosions of these ships are so small, or why the antimatter ammunition is so hilariously underpowered. The antimatter charges can perhaps be explained away with very, very small payloads. But certainly a spaceship designed to fly through hundreds of solar systems would carry enough antimatter fuel - thousands of kilograms - to explode far more spectacularly than they do? Do they eject their fuel stores, which should be very well protected, autonomous containment units with multiple redundancies, before exploding?

Even with, possibly correctly - I’m not an astrophysicist - assuming that not all of the antimatter would get annihilated at the same time, still several kilograms of it would explode at once if containment fails, which would create an explosion of several hundred megatons, or at least a few Tsar Bombas (estimated 50 megatons).

Or is the answer just “it’s magic I aint gotta explain ■■■■?”


(Aria Jenneth) #2

So-- my best guess (aside from “space magic,” which is definitely in play-- conventional artillery, not rails firing shells at near-C, is the alpha-strike weapon of choice, to which: wtf?) is that the quantities of antimatter at play in Eve are tiny. There are no straight-up antimatter missiles; the heaviest explosive munitions (citadel torps and explosive bombs) are straight-up nukes. Antimatter charges contain antimatter in a “plasma state,” which might be pretty diffuse. Amarr ships use antimatter reactors, but likely get to refuel on the regular. What if the “refueling” a frigate basically means magnetically vacuuming in a new speck of anti-dust?

That said, yeah, as noted above, some of it is totes space magic. (In which it is scarcely unique. Take our flight mechanics. Subs … in … spaaaaace!)


(Tannia Ambrye) #3

Containing antimatter is the trickiest part and in a matter-antimatter reaction, without some sort of mechanism to keep the antimatter in proximity with matter, most of the antimatter would be driven away and dispersed by the initial explosion. There would probably be a lot of smaller secondary reactions occurring in the area as a result until the antimatter dispersed enough to minimize interactions with regular matter So perhaps this is what’s happening, but to be honest, I don’t think the Eve developers put much thought into the physics of it. Also, nuclear explosions of any type in space wouldn’t have a fireball appearance, no atmosphere to turn into plasma, just a bright flash.

There might be an explanation in the lore, but I’m still making my way through that. Also, I am not an astrophysicist either.


(Aria Jenneth) #4

(Also not a physicist, though I am an interested observer. That said I’m going to feel free to chatter my head off.)

So … even leaving aside the question of what is doing the pushing, it seems like, pushing something away (that is largely surrounded by matter) is apt to result in … contact with matter. I mean, I could see ejecting a chunk of antimatter but WOW the navigational hazard, and if it stays aboard it’s going to come into contact with something.

From what I understand, as a source of energy, an antimatter annihilation reaction puts nuclear explosions to shame. Fundamentally, a nuclear explosion comes from a whole bunch of unstable atoms moving from a relatively high-energy state to a relatively low-energy one, all at once. Even a fusion reaction is basically just matter (hydrogen) moving towards a lower-energy state (helium).

An annihilation reaction takes all the energy the matter and antimatter contain, and releases it. This is, in a word, bigger.

(Physics people, please feel free to beat me over the head and correct my understanding.)

One of the traditional squawks about Eve is that the use of antimatter as a weapon is already achieving absurd levels of horrifying epic awesome-- and apparently defenses in Eve are so amazing that you need to accelerate the stuff to near-C before it becomes a viable weapon.

Best explanation I can come up with for all this is the one named above: the quantities involved are minuscule, rendered relatively safe to handle because there’s just not much there.


(Tannia Ambrye) #5

This represents the first challenge, containment. It’s exactly the challenge of storing and transporting antimatter, it’s going to be surrounded by matter. Not the safest or most desirable of situations, but tolerable for its potential power output, assuming we can capture and utilize that energy.

is apt to result in … contact with matter.

That is the notion of an antimatter bomb, but again containment issues, charge shaping, and the force of the explosion itself all play a role in how effectively this happens.

I could see ejecting a chunk of antimatter but WOW the navigational hazard, and if it stays aboard it’s going to come into contact with something.

Ejecting a “chunk of antimatter” would have to be done with force fields, presumably magnetic fields, to avoid contact with regular matter. And it wouldn’t be something that you’d want to be near either. Most likely it would be frozen anti-hydrogen, but perhaps something else in the Eve-verse. The anti-hydrogen would quickly start evaporating if the region of space is anything above absolute zero and would result in a hazardous cloud of particles. So an extreme navigational hazard indeed and probably held together under mutual gravitational attraction and polar bondsintermolecular forces.

Fundamentally, a nuclear explosion

I lump matter-antimatter reactions with nuclear as most of the energy released will be from the nucleases annihilating each other. So no, it wouldn’t be a nuclear reaction in the sense of fusion or fission. Keep in mind, the annihilation process would move the matter and antimatter into lowered energy states, particles of light and other EM are inherently more stable than hydrogen atoms or its particles.

One of the traditional squawks about Eve is that the use of antimatter as a weapon is already achieving absurd levels of horrifying epic awesome

The fact they have the energy and materials necessary to create antimatter in such abundance puts the lie to the resources scarcity in eve.

Best explanation I can come up with for all this is the one named above: the quantities involved are minuscule, rendered relatively safe to handle because there’s just not much there.

Which would also be true in our universe, reducing the utility of antimatter as bomb material.

Edit: polar bonds? Yeah not quite. :laughing:


(Aria Jenneth) #6

Though it’s not fully applicable to our present, rather different, discussion, here’s what the ever user-friendly XKCD has to say about antimatter…

Antimatter


(Teinyhr) #7

So it’s magic. Like Friendship.


(Tannia Ambrye) #8

Pretty much


(Aria Jenneth) #9

Yeah, it’s pretty much space magic.

One note, though…

Okay, again, not a physicist, but this slipped by me earlier and it should not have.

Fission reactions do not involve “annihilation” of any kind, unless you’re the poor bastard standing next to one. They involve the rapid decay of an unstable form of matter into a relatively stable form of matter on the atomic level-- splitting apart, not disappearing. Fusion reactions actually involve atoms coming together, recombining into a new element (typically H > He). In both cases, some energy is released, but in neither case is the matter “annihilated.” (It is apt to spend a little while as a plasma, though.)

Matter + equivalent antimatter, on the other hand, results in no matter, no antimatter, and piles of offloaded energy. The result is a bang I lack the science to describe in more detail.

As I understand it, though, it’s the difference between having some of the energy contained in a particular form of matter released, and being left with still plenty of matter, versus ALL the energy in both the matter and antimatter being released.


(Tannia Ambrye) #10

I never said it did. See further where I say,

My point is that the reactions of all involve the nucleus of the atoms. True, matter-antimatter reactions can involve electron-positron annihilation but most of the energy comes from the nucleases annihilating each other. Whereas in fission and fusion involve only the energy released from what happens in the nucleus of the atoms.

I stand by my assertion.


(Aria Jenneth) #11

In terms of where the energy comes from, sure. In terms of what the reaction involves? Uh…

Yeah, not so sure. It seems to me that it’s like comparing a game of pool to a trick involving a disappearing eight-ball because both involve eight-balls.


(Tannia Ambrye) #12

Nuclear power is defined as follows.

the process in which two nuclear particles (two nuclei or a nucleus and a nucleon) interact to produce two or more nuclear particles or ˠ-rays (gamma rays).
(emphasis mine)

As two equivalent matter and antimatter particles would annihilate each other to produce gamma rays, even though no nuclides are produced, qualifies antimatter reactions as nuclear.

Sources:


(Aria Jenneth) #13

I’d think you’d want to reserve the “nuclear” designation to stuff where the interaction has something substantial to do with the properties of the nuclei involved, as opposed to “when a particle and an anti-particle love each other very much … they both disappear in a flash of energy.”

Far as I can gather, the annihilation is taking place on the quantum level, not the nuclear-- that is, you can use anti-hydrogen to annihilate an equivalent mass of, say, iron. You don’t need anti-iron, or anything else that would ordinarily react with iron at a molecular or atomic level.

Regardless, we’re now arguing technical semantics as a pair of non-experts. Even if one of us wins the argument, the outcome’s accuracy is going to be iffy.


(Tannia Ambrye) #14

I am appalled, hurt, and cut to the quick even! I never said antimatter reactions are about particles having a mutually destructive and forbidden love. How could you say I said that? weeps profusely

I’m actually going by what nuclear physicists and experts in the industry are saying, as evidenced by the material I sourced. So I promise you, I’m not just making this up. I admit though that you made me consider if I understood my own position correctly for a bit there. Which forced me to look up and reread my sources again.

Far as I can gather, the annihilation is taking place on the quantum level, not the nuclear

It all happens on a quantum level. Quantum mechanics explains why nuclear fission is possible at all in the first place, for example.

Even if one of us wins the argument, the outcome’s accuracy is going to be iffy.

As I’ve stated earlier, I am not an astrophysicist.


(Aria Jenneth) #15

I didn’t. I wasn’t quoting or paraphrasing you, rather providing a wry description of the process.

Which, you might note, is not included on the list of types of nuclear reactions named in your source.

A matter/antimatter reaction is an annihilation reaction. That, or at least the “annihilation” bit, appears to be the actual technical name for the phenomenon. Your source doesn’t even mention the word.


(Tannia Ambrye) #16

It was a somewhat non charitable and inaccurate description of my position and I tried to treat it with some humour.

Which, you might note, is not included on the list of types of nuclear reactions named in your source.

Which went on to talk about sustained natural and human made sources of nuclear power. Do you know of any sustained antimatter reaction power sources we utilize, or found evidence of on earth, natural or otherwise?

A matter/antimatter reaction is an annihilation reaction.

It’s a conversation of atomic and particle binding forces into gamma radiation. Some of this also occurs in fusion and fission as not all the products are nuclides. The definition I provided is an inclusive definition and it provides for both cases, including total conversion into gamma radiation. Is it because annihilation has different connotations for you?


(Aria Jenneth) #17

It was not a description of your position at all; if anything, it was a description of mine.

Whether we’ve harnessed it and made a tool out of it, in fact as well as fiction, is irrelevant for the question of whether to call it a nuclear reaction and include it on the list of nuclear reactions.

We also have consistently failed to make fusion workable as a power source, not for want of trying, and it merits a mention.

Edit: well, other than the sun.

So-- actually, the “natural” thing is kind of a funny question. Apparently one of the great questions of modern physics is why there seems to be so much more matter than antimatter-- why the two don’t exist in precisely equal proportions. Which isn’t to say that there’s no antimatter in the universe-- just that we can’t seem to find it.

In other words, if our earth happened to encounter an equivalent mass of antimatter, that meeting would in fact be a massive natural source of very intense (like, everybody nearby dies) energy. That we can’t seem to find such masses, is actually pretty strange.

As far as I know, it’s less about binding forces and more about the particles themselves going poof, gone in a puff of photons and other fun stuff; it’s about a direct loss of matter. Unless you see protons, neutrons, etc., as things that exist only as functions of binding forces, which I’m not enough of a physicist, astro- or otherwise, to speak to.

Let me approach this from a different angle. Antimatter is a real thing, something we can actually make at places like the LHC-- at great cost and difficulty, and not in significant quantities, mind.

If you can find a source talking about annihilation reactions as a type of nuclear reaction, I’ll concede that the term might fit. Otherwise, it seems to me that you’re looking for information on intestinal bacteria in a paper on herons, to draw a very rough analogy.

(Herons do have guts, and presumably intestinal bacteria, but. …)


(Tannia Ambrye) #18

You’re the one who made an issue of antimatter reactions not being described in the article. I was pointing out that the article was describing known sources of nuclear power. It is the definition provided at the start of the article that we see that antimatter reactions are within the definition of nuclear. Further, the website does have a page dedicated to antimatter reactions.

We also have consistently failed to make fusion workable as a power source, not for want of trying, and it merits a mention.

Not true. It’s small, slow fusion reactors that we’ve failed to produce so far. We could build a useful fusion reactor today if we were willing to build on a huge scale and use fusion bombs, but that has all sorts of economic and political issues attached.

Which isn’t to say that there’s no antimatter in the universe-- just that we can’t seem to find it.

Actually, we do find it. Cosmic radiation creates antimatter in out upper atmosphere. Some pulsars eject huge jets of antimatter parsecs into intergalactic space. Even our fission reactors produce antimatter as a matter (pun intended) of rote.

That we can’t seem to find such masses, is actually pretty strange.

This is just because the nature of matter and antimatter isn’t fully understood. According to the standard model matter and antimatter should be perfect mirrors images of each other. It is a conundrum.

As far as I know, it’s less about binding forces and more about the particles themselves going poof, gone in a puff of photons and other fun stuff; it’s about a direct loss of matter. Unless you see protons, neutrons, etc., as things that exist only as functions of binding forces, which I’m not enough of a physicist, astro- or otherwise, to speak to.

It’s all about binding forces, which is where all the energy is stored. Matter isn’t this solid material, it’s all energy held in specific configurations by binding forces. The subatomic particles themselves are made of quarks which are held together via binding forces. So you overcome the binding forces and all the energy is released as light, gamma radiation, and other EM.

Antimatter is a real thing, something we can actually make at places like the LHC-- at great cost and difficulty, and not in significant quantities, mind.

Don’t you think that might be why we don’t have any antimatter power stations, or at least one good reason? It’s also one reason why we don’t find naturally occurring antimatter reactors in the fossil record, aside from the fact it would leave a large irradiated crater where it occurred.

If you can find a source talking about annihilation reactions as a type of nuclear reaction, I’ll concede that the term might fit.

I did, but you rejected it. If need be, I can look for more.

Otherwise, it seems to me that you’re looking for information on intestinal bacteria in a paper on herons, to draw a very rough analogy.

Uh, no. It’s not like that at all. It’s more like I’m looking up information on bovine in a paper on the beef industry. All those bovine not important to turning cows into beef don’t get much of a mention.


(Aria Jenneth) #19

???

What I saw there was an article discussing types of nuclear reactions. Annihilation reactions were not one.

Can you find a list of nuclear reaction types that does include it?

I mean … this whole argument is a debate over technical semantics by two people not especially educated in the field. If you can find an authority that actually says what you are saying, rather than using language that could be taken as supporting your inference that an annihilation reaction fits under the general category of “nuclear,” I’ll shrug and go, “Okay.”

I don’t have a lot of stake in it, aside from time investment.

But when I google “nuclear reaction types,” and then do a word-search of the top few articles for “annihilation,” I come up empty.


(Tannia Ambrye) #20

I’ve been replying while I’m at work, so I don’t have access to my usual materials. I’ll look into this a bit more when I can focus properly. I’m pretty sure that I’m correct on this, but it’s possible I might be mistaken here.