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Thunderstorms Proven To Create Antimatter

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the also-renamed-to-awesomestorms dept.

NASA 153

radioweather writes "Scientists using NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have detected beams of antimatter from thunderstorms in the form of positrons hurled into space. Scientists think the antimatter particles were formed in a terrestrial gamma-ray flash, a brief burst produced inside thunderstorms and shown to be associated with lightning. 'These signals are the first direct evidence that thunderstorms make antimatter particle beams,' said Michael Briggs, a member of Fermi's Gamma-ray Burst Monitor team. He presented the findings at a news briefing at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle."

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Death ray? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34834744)

How long before somebody thinks of harvesting the antimatter part and turning it into a ...

Not surprising (1)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34834816)

Anti-matter is probably created all the time in the room you are sitting in. Just hard to detect.

Re:Not surprising (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34835066)

Oh, good. I was worried I was the only one that smelled that...

Re:Not surprising (1)

flargleblarg (685368) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835494)

The dog did it.

Re:Not surprising (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#34836602)

Thanks man... Coke and onion-rings all over the laptop....

Re:Death ray? (4, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34834864)

Harvesting antimatter is incredibly hard. It's not like you can just stuff it in a shoe box. You need to make sure that it doesn't come into contact with any normal matter. This means putting it in a vacuum and using magnetic fields to make sure that it doesn't touch the sides of the container. Scientists only managed to make a stable antimatter container for the first time a few months back.

Re:Death ray? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34835226)

Maybe where you're living (US ?). But at CERN, scientists of the LEAR experiment have managed to produce, trap, and store antimatter as far back as 1995. And even to create anti-hydrogen atoms out of it.

Re:Death ray? (2)

m50d (797211) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835324)

The anti-hydrogen atoms were only stable in the particle-physicist sense - IIRC they lasted about 5 seconds. If someone's built an antimatter container that can keep it around for, say, long enough to fly it across the atlantic, that really is a new achievement.

Re:Death ray? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34835486)

Well, does it really matter what the common man thinks stable means when applied to anti-matter ?

Re:Death ray? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34835654)

I don't know for you, but I can fly across the atlantic in 5 seconds. Or I could if I was an anti-electron.

Re:Death ray? (1)

Frank T. Lofaro Jr. (142215) | more than 3 years ago | (#34836580)

If someone's built an antimatter container that can keep it around for, say, long enough to fly it across the atlantic, that really is a new achievement.

Considering that TSA won't even let you bring a shampoo bottle on a plane, I don't think they'll be allowing antimatter on!

Re:Death ray? Not hard. (3, Funny)

vm146j2 (233075) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835382)

Keeping antimatter safe is easy; you can just stuff it in a shoe box, as long as the shoe box is made of antimatter.

Re:Death ray? Not hard. (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#34836370)

Which you then house in a larger antimatter shoe box and put it under your antimatter bed in your antimatter house.

Re:Death ray? Not hard. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34836892)

Does not compute! if all you want is death just stuff the antimatter into a shoe box - BOOM! Of course the downside is you go with it

Re:Death ray? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34835634)

Harvesting antimatter is incredibly hard. ...

And you know this how?

Re:Death ray? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34835666)

YOUR shoe box. I have a bed made out of the stuff. Don't think that what goes for you applies to everyone, buddy.

Besides, I think everyone reading /. on any semi-regular basis already knows about the whole "capturing anti-matter" thing, so no need to repeat stuff like you're the only one who keeps up on the news.

Re:Death ray? (1)

mldi (1598123) | more than 3 years ago | (#34836448)

YOUR shoe box. I have a bed made out of the stuff. Don't think that what goes for you applies to everyone, buddy.

Besides, I think everyone reading /. on any semi-regular basis already knows about the whole "capturing anti-matter" thing, so no need to repeat stuff like you're the only one who keeps up on the news.

You're assuming everyone has kept up on this news. It might be new to somebody, in which case this is incredibly helpful.

Re:Death ray? (2)

Dynetrekk (1607735) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835956)

Really? I seem to recall a few particle accelerators - LEP [wikipedia.org] and Tevatron [wikipedia.org] come to mind - that can (or could, in LEP's case) keep stable antimatter beams for hours. I'd agree that it's only antiprotons or antielectrons, but it's still antimatter, and stable for tens of hours. Also, you can make a death ray, instead of a silly bomb!

Re:Death ray? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34836232)

Really? I seem to recall a few particle accelerators - LEP [wikipedia.org] and Tevatron [wikipedia.org] come to mind - that can (or could, in LEP's case) keep stable antimatter beams for hours.

So you fully agree with TheRaven64 that you need to keep it in a vacuum and confined by magnetic field, which is exactly what accelerators do.

You're just being pedantic because he/she/it didn't throw in the qualifier "which can store antiparticles at rest, rather than relativistic beams". Folks like you are why lawyers control our lives.

Re:Death ray? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34836932)

You need to make sure that it doesn't come into contact with any normal matter.

Duh... just create the container from antimatter. Do I have to take care of everything?

Re:Death ray? (1)

ziggyzaggy (552814) | more than 3 years ago | (#34836108)

nonsense, article states the rate of production is something like 500 events a year over the whole planet. You're not going to build a planet-wide harvesting system, and if you could 500 anti-protons do not a death ray make.

Posibilities (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34834754)

So, when can we place those beams on shark heads?

Re:Posibilities (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34834980)

we'll first need to breed anti-sharks to carry them.

Call Tesla (2)

McTickles (1812316) | more than 3 years ago | (#34834762)

He'll want to know he was right...

--

http://www.twilightcampaign.net/ [twilightcampaign.net]

Re:Call Tesla (3, Funny)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#34834830)

Scientists think the antimatter particles were formed in a terrestrial gamma-ray flash

Screw that. Quick, someone get Bruce Banner [wikipedia.org] up there in an airplane!

Re:Call Tesla (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34834920)

Scientists think the antimatter particles were formed in a terrestrial gamma-ray flash

Screw that. Quick, someone get Bruce Banner [wikipedia.org] up there in an airplane!

That'll make him angry. You wouldn't like him when he's angry.

Re:Call Tesla (2)

2names (531755) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835414)

Tesla *knew* he was right. He just didn't have enough time to prove it.

Re:Call Tesla (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835604)

Tesla is dead. I doubt he cares now...

Re:Call Tesla (1)

hostyle (773991) | more than 3 years ago | (#34836040)

Would that make him an anti-Tesla?

Re:Call Tesla (1)

Requiem18th (742389) | more than 3 years ago | (#34836942)

He does care or else he wouldn't have invented a machine to communicate beyond the grave.

Destroy the planet! (5, Funny)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34834802)

So this is exactly like the LHC, right? How can clouds be so irresponsible to create ANTIMATTER that will destroy the entire planet, just because they can! I saw what happened when Neo let a single drop of antimatter fall out of the Millennium Falcon to destroy the elves' homeworld. Why won't Obama do something about this "lightning"? He's in the pocket of the lightning rod industry!

Re:Destroy the planet! (4, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34834872)

I saw what happened when Neo let a single drop of antimatter fall out of the Millennium Falcon to destroy the elves' homeworld

I know it's a joke, but somehow I still want to see that film...

Re:Destroy the planet! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34834880)

Coming soon to a Kinect-motion-captured Machinima near you

Re:Destroy the planet! (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835076)

I saw what happened when Neo let a single drop of antimatter fall out of the Millennium Falcon to destroy the elves' homeworld

I know it's a joke, but somehow I still want to see that film...

You'll see basically that in the Imagination Land episodes of South Park.

Re:Destroy the planet! (1)

sgunhouse (1050564) | more than 3 years ago | (#34836130)

Somehow I thought it was a reference to the latest Star Trek film ...

Re:Destroy the planet! (3, Funny)

zandeez (1917156) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835216)

Change the names and it's basically the new Star Trek film...

Re:Destroy the planet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34835676)

Actually, just throw an "r" in there.

I saw what happened when Nero let a single drop of antimatter fall out of the Millennium Falcon to destroy the elves' homeworld

Re:Destroy the planet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34835834)

So... lightning causes cancer? I doubt the pharmaceutical industry is going to let lightning go away....

Re:Destroy the planet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34836428)

So this is exactly like the LHC, right?

More like LHC combined with the Deepwater disaster. I blame the T-storm party with their deathclouds, and Fox news. After all, what do all fox news stations run on? That's right... ELECTRICITY.

Why won't Obama do something about this "lightning"? He's in the pocket of the lightning rod industry!

He had no choice, lightning is too big to fail. It's just another symptom of our dependence on weather, which I'm pretty sure was set up by George W Bush.

Re:Destroy the planet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34836730)

I saw what happened when Neo let a single drop of antimatter fall out of the Millennium Falcon to destroy the elves' homeworld.

Thanks for the spoiler you insensitive clod!

Re:Destroy the planet! (1)

cforciea (1926392) | more than 3 years ago | (#34837040)

Okay, that's the hardest I've had to try in weeks to not burst out laughing at work so that people didn't know I was reading Slashdot comments. Bravo.

So, here's a question... (2, Interesting)

RyanFenton (230700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34834806)

Does this process potentially make the world more massive, in creating particle pairs - one of which escapes into space? Would this potentially be a way of testing gravity theories in controlled circumstances?

Ryan Fenton

Re:So, here's a question... (0, Offtopic)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#34834818)

The antiparticles are being formed, without a matter counterpart, by high-energy reactions and not by the separation of virtual particle pairs as at the edge of an event horizon.

Re:So, here's a question... (5, Informative)

AlecC (512609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34834944)

I doubt strongly that they are being formed "without a matter counterpart". That would violate a number of cherished conservation rules. A positron/electron pair is formed when a gamma ray of sufficient energy passes close to a nucleus. But it would be difficult to detect the new electrons in the maelstrom of displaced electrons that is a thunderstorm, whereas the positrons are extremely distinctive,

Re:So, here's a question... (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835046)

Ah, I'll leave the particle physics to those who know a bit better from now on. :) You're right, there's all sorts of violations that would've stood out if I'd thought about what I was writing some more.

Re:So, here's a question... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34835156)

... *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap*

Re:So, here's a question... (5, Informative)

toppavak (943659) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835268)

Indeed, the positrons are not escaping into space, even at an altitude of 100km, the mean free path in atmosphere is on the order of cm. TFA has it right although slightly distorted (the summary is totally off). The generation of the positron / electron pair results in an annihilation event quite rapidly as the positron travels away from its generation point. What is being observed in orbit is the 511.4 keV photon (gamma ray) that is generated as a consequence of the annihilation. Hence why a gamma ray observatory was able to detect the events.

Re:So, here's a question... (1)

sorak (246725) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835724)

I know I won't understand the answer to this, but, if antimatter is being sent into space, (even if it is only a minute amount), and it is either formed, or extracted from what was previously here on earth, would that affect the earth's mass? (Again, I would understand if the answer was "not by a measurable amount")

Re:So, here's a question... (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835814)

Yes, by a truly minute amount. On the other hand, the anti-matter came from energy, and the energy came from sunlight, and the sunlight was matter/energy arriving from the sun. So it is not contributing to a net weight loss from the earth.

And the amount is probably dwarfed by the steady trickle of atmosphere being lost into space.

Re:So, here's a question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34835908)

Well, comment just above this explains that the antimatter isn't really leaving into space, but hypothetically....

The mass of the antimatter (and the matter that is created symmetrically with it) is converted from the energy that goes into the reaction that produced it (electromagnetic energy in this case). So if the antimatter (or, indeed, the matter) leaves the earth system (i.e., escapes the earth's gravity well), then the earth has indeed lost mass. Albeit mass that was originally in the form of energy. The kicker is that the original energy was always mass, in terms of its mechanical properties (for example, in contributing to the gravitational field of the earth), because of mass-energy equivalence (E=mc^2).

Re:So, here's a question... (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835942)

I wonder if thunderstorms can create micro-blackholes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micro_black_hole [wikipedia.org]

http://www.ukweatherworld.co.uk/forum/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=7952&start=1 [ukweatherworld.co.uk]

Re:So, here's a question... (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34836316)

Very unlikely. This reports show energies in the MeV range, required to create electron/positron pairs. To create micro-black-holes requires energies in the TeV range, a million times higher. If those energies were around, as well as huge numbers of MeV positron gammas, you would also be seeing large quantities of GeV anti-proton gammas. And presumably the exploding micro-black-hole would have a fairly dramatic signal as well.

Re:So, here's a question... (1)

thethibs (882667) | more than 3 years ago | (#34834886)

A thunderstorm is hardly "controlled circumstances." And who said anything about pairs?

Re:So, here's a question... (2)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835038)

Charge conservation has something to say about pairs. And evidence of a violation of that would be in the headline...

Re:So, here's a question... (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835352)

Also lepton number conservation.

Valid assumption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34835152)

I think that he simply assumed that the creation of positrons implied the creation of electrons. Given our current understanding of anti-matter, I think it is a valid assumption to make.

Re:So, here's a question... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34835012)

Does this process potentially make the world more massive, in creating particle pairs - one of which escapes into space? Would this potentially be a way of testing gravity theories in controlled circumstances?

Ryan Fenton

No.

Re:So, here's a question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34835014)

No, lighter.

The positron pair formed may have a real mass, but the energy is supplied by the lightning. Per E=mc2, that's just different manifestations of the same thing. Now, one half of the pair escapes earth. That's a real mass (and energy) loss.

Re:So, here's a question... (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835938)

No, the positron doesn't leave the atmosphere. It annihilates with an electron, and the gamma radiation created that way leaves the atmosphere.
Of course the earth still gets lighter, because the gamma rays transport the energy of the positron and the electron away (unless one of the two gamma photons hits the ground or gets absorbed in the atmosphere, of course; although ultimately that energy will radiate away as heat, too).

Re:So, here's a question... (1, Insightful)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835016)

No, because for every pair of which a positron escapes and a electron doesn't, there's another pair for which an electron escapes but the positron does not. On average it will make no difference.

Re:So, here's a question... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34835378)

On average it will make no difference.

Are you sure about that? [wikipedia.org]

Re:So, here's a question... (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835336)

No, it generates electron-positron pairs. If the positron escapes into space, the Earth is less massive by the mass of one positron.

Despite being called "antimatter", antiparticles have positive energies and positive masses, just like regular particles.

Re:So, here's a question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34836784)

i've got a pair, but i'm not gonna let you zap'em.

Beams? (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 3 years ago | (#34834814)

You mean like 5 metres by 150mm by 100mm

I thought antimatter would only be created one or 2 antiprotons and positrons at a time.

Re:Beams? (3, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34834896)

Well, what might only create one or two antiprotons in the US can actually create a whole beam of them in Europe, because of unit conversion.

Not just antimatter (2)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#34834822)

With 1.21 gigawatts you can even go back to the future

Re:Not just antimatter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34834970)

They're already time travelling, RTFA. They observed the phenomenon on Dec. 14th, 2009 @ 11:53, and then all of a sudden the results are showing up on Jan. 10, 2011? Somebody call Jean Claude Van Damme, because these guys aren't supposed to be here yet. :)

Ride the lightning? (1)

blankoboy (719577) | more than 3 years ago | (#34834828)

I am wondering if there might be some way we can use lightning to launch spacecraft or other vehicles/matter into orbit?

Re:Ride the lightning? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34834884)

A railgun my good man, that's what you're curious about. I think there was something on /. recently about the US Navy, (Air Force? whoever uses the aircraft carriers) switching to, or testing a similar system to launching & stopping planes.

Also, if you're a fan of video games, the "Metal Gear Solid" series revolves around gigantic Transfomer-ish robots with built-in railguns.

Re:Ride the lightning? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34835176)

G-forces for orbital launch would either be ridiculous or so would the railgun size. Assume it was 1000 meters long. Escape velocity is about 11,200 meters/sec. So, 1142.8gs. Make it 10 km long and the acceleration would be 114.2gs. To get it down to something survivable (say 10gs) it would have to be 114.8km long and would be one helluva ride. I'd hate to see the power bill or try to find a spot to build it.

A lunar orbit launcher would need to be only 24.5km long for 10g acceleration.

btw, 20,000 meters per second has been achieved [wikipedia.org] . That's more than enough to not need rockets to get to orbit or the moon. Rockets would still be necessary for landing without an atmosphere or a lot of airbags.

Re:Ride the lightning? (1)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835410)

I recall some discussion about 20-30 years ago (?) about building a launcher that went up Pike's Peak in Colorado. I still think something like that would be a good idea, somewhere - maybe somewhere on the slopes of the Andes, close to the equator, that would not require so much correction to get to an equatorial orbit.

In fact, that's probably an interesting idea for Ecuador to pursue. They have a good coastal plain with a reasonable infrastructure, and mountains. If a compatibly-shaped mountain is available, then this could become a low cost way of launching small satellites at least. It could also have the effect of boosting Ecuador's ability to compete in a tech world, as the infrastructure required would involve thousands of engineers and scientists, first in design and construction, then in operation.

Re:Ride the lightning? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 3 years ago | (#34836756)

I recall some discussion about 20-30 years ago (?) about building a launcher that went up Pike's Peak in Colorado.

That sounds like vintage Heinlein. "Man Who Sold the Moon" mentioned a Pike's Peak catapult (proposed, not built in the story)....

Re:Ride the lightning? (1)

M. Baranczak (726671) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835990)

Or you could have a hybrid system: the craft would still use rockets, but it would get an initial boost from a railgun, so it wouldn't need to carry as much fuel.

Fix the energy shortage in one bang. (2)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 3 years ago | (#34834936)

An lightning flash has an enery of about 500 Megajoule, which wil drive your electric car for 2000 km. No other fuel required, just put an iron rod on top and have a reload time of a few seconds...

Re:Fix the energy shortage in one bang. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34835450)

Just don't go past 88 MPH, and you'll be fine.

Re:Fix the energy shortage in one bang. (2)

tibit (1762298) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835592)

The only technologically feasible way to capture lightning energy right now is to have an effing big capacitor. Building-size-effing-big. There's nothing smaller that can be charged to megavolts within a millisecond or so and survive it.

Re:Fix the energy shortage in one bang. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34835642)

This is Slashdot. We are programmers. We understand nothing of basic physical reality and engineering, and we don't care. We want to colonize the universe because computers got really fast in the last twenty years. Go away with your talk of reality and limits!

Re:Fix the energy shortage in one bang. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34836514)

Just don't mix up the polarity...

Re:Fix the energy shortage in one bang. (1)

Kompressor (595513) | more than 3 years ago | (#34836710)

And for God's sake, DON'T cross the beams!

Re:Ride the lightning? (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#34836486)

I am wondering if there might be some way we can use lightning to launch spacecraft or other vehicles/matter into orbit?

I think it would probably be inefficient to delay a launch until there happened to be a thunderstorm over the lightning rods/space shuttle. Plus, while I'm not a rocket scientist, nor do I work at NASA, it seems to me like there might be issues with launching in a thunderstorm.

Something the Mythbusters can test! (2)

asicsolutions (1481269) | more than 3 years ago | (#34834852)

Jamie want big boom!

Re:Something the Mythbusters can test! (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#34836816)

Coming up on Mytrhbusters; Does antimatter and matter really explode when it comes into contact with each other?

Great! (1)

SwedishPenguin (1035756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34834906)

Now when we're invaded by aliens, we'll just induce a couple of thunderstorms directly beneath their ships as they approach!

Obligatory antimatter quote (1)

orzetto (545509) | more than 3 years ago | (#34834940)

"Does it mean it doesn't matter?"

Re:Obligatory antimatter quote (1)

famebait (450028) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835560)

"Does it mean it doesn't matter?"

It's stuff that antimatters.

Flux Capacitor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34835004)

Now we really know what powers the Flux Capacitor! It had nothing to do with the gigawatts, that was just a cover. Doc Brown really needed the antimatter from the lightning to flow through the flux capacitor to create a micro-wormhole and send them forward in.

Must have been the same with the Mr. Fusion conversion.

Still haven't worked out the 88 MPH bit, and getting parts for my Delorean is getting harder and harder... but hope there is...

Re:Flux Capacitor (1)

Captain Hook (923766) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835502)

88 MPH = necessary momentum to breach the replusive event horizon

How do I know the event horizon is replusive?
  • Doc Brown goes to great lenghts to avoid changing the time line
  • Since anything from the future can change the time line, everything that comes through must be accounted for and returned before being noticed by anyone.
  • If the event horizon was easy to pass through, anything near the car at the event horizon could pass through, 1985 rubbish floating around, germs, people or animals etc
  • Since, for example, no 1985 coke can was ever found in 1955 we know nothing else passed through the horizon on at least 12 time travel trips shown in the 3 films (although not all the trips were future -> past)

Therefore anything which wasn't either in the car or physically attached to the outside car went couldn't go through and so there must be some minimum force needed to push through the horizon.

Re:Flux Capacitor (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#34836878)

And as evident by the effect of a lot of wind blowing away from the event horizon as seen in the films when they do travel.

A non repuslive event horizon has the possibility of causing huge problems if the atmospheric pressure at the starting point was higher than the end point or vicea versa. 1-2 psi in planet size is a crapload of pressure.

Re:Flux Capacitor (1)

mujadaddy (1238164) | more than 3 years ago | (#34837000)

*slow clap*

Sprites / elves? (3, Informative)

popoutman (189497) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835142)

This is most likely related to the phenomena known as Sprites, Jets or Elves, that have been captured coming from the tops of thunderclouds. Better explanations here http://www.sky-fire.tv/index.cgi/spritesbluejetselves.html [sky-fire.tv]

What gave them the idea? (3, Interesting)

KDN (3283) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835314)

What gave them the idea to look for these antimatter bursts? Did some scientist theorize it was possible and ask them to look? Or did the spacecraft start receiving bursts that they eventually tracked down to thunderstorms on earth?

Re:What gave them the idea? (4, Informative)

GammaRay Rob (452271) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835584)

Terrestrial Gamma Flashes have been detected by orbiting instruments for some time; at least since 1991,iirc. What's new here is the definite signature of positron annihilation; this can only be done with a sufficiently large detector looking at the right energy. The Burst Monitor on Fermi was designed to catch the medium energies of gamma-ray bursts (as well as low- and high energies), so this was a nice add-on to the main science.

Re:What gave them the idea? -BATSE (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34835762)

Rob-

Thanks for the BATSE plug.
For the past ~14 years (~1993 to 2007), I couldn't get anyone else, even on our own team, interested in TGFs, theory or obervations. It took the RHESSI observations, and the efforts of the fine scientists, David Smith and Joe Dwyer, along with the RHESSI observations, to invigorate the field. (Bob Malozzi and Berl Peterson were the only two persons who worked with me on TGFs in ~1999. Now its a big deal.

Jerry

Re:What gave them the idea? (1)

KDN (3283) | more than 3 years ago | (#34836014)

Yes, gamma ray bursts were originally used by the military to detect nuclear weapons testing. It was then they found out that gamma ray bursts came from space as well. I was hoping to see an ironic loop in that gamma ray detectors set up to detect nuclear explosions on earth found gamma ray bursts in space. And that further study of the space phenomena led to discovery of phenomena here on earth.

Re:What gave them the idea? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#34836170)

Yeah, first the proved that aliens have nuclear bombs, and then they found that flashes are nuclear explosions. :-)

Antimatter Lasers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34835330)

"Its a laser of pure antimatter."

Old News, I saw video of these some 10 years ago. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34835500)

Shot from the ISS. A storm look from above...!

we can have warp drive soon (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 3 years ago | (#34836086)

Are you telling me that we are that much closer to getting our warp drives???

Re:we can have warp drive soon (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#34836904)

Nope still screwed.... we still have not found a source for Dilithium Crystals.

Delorians all around? (1)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 3 years ago | (#34836308)

Charge up the anti-matter engine and prepare for an infusion of 1.21 Gigawatts! We're going BACK... ...to the future!

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