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The Source of Antimatter
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gurps_gm
Lieutenant JG


Joined: 25 Jun 2010
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 6:30 am    Post subject: The Source of Antimatter Reply with quote

In the SFU is antimatter produced in some sort of factory, or is it mined from a source? Like a neutron star or even an antimatter planet.

Thanks in advance,
Tom
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djdood
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Joined: 01 Feb 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 6:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think it's been specifically defined how anti-matter is sourced in the SFU, but I seriously doubt there is any "mining" type processes.

I would imagine big, factory-sized, particle accelerator facilities, with massive magnetic-bottle storage farms adjacent. Probably located on asteroids or some other remote location, in case of a catastrophic accident.
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gurps_gm
Lieutenant JG


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 2:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree that that a secure factory makes the most sense.

On the other hand, the discovery of a natural source might make an interesting game...
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Sgt_G
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Joined: 07 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 8:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In Trek, the Bussard Collector can gather up enough anti-matter to run the engines. I beleive the same is true in SFU, but only up to a point after which the engines are "burning" more than the collectors can take in.
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gurps_gm
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that's hydrogen. The collectors were named after a scientist who theorized that free floating hydrogen in deep space can be harvested for fuel for nuclear-powered rocket.
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djdood
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 4:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Correct; hydrogen-only, not antimatter.

Some of Dr. Bussard's work was on using massive magnetic fields to act as a "ramscoop" to collect the thinly-distributed hydrogen atoms in interstellar space. This hydrogen would be concentrated, with the goal of collecting enough to continuously power a fusion power plant.

The "Bussard collectors" on the front of many Trek and SFU engine nacelles are based on his work, intended to attempt continuously "top off" the slush deuterium fuel tanks of the ship (not really keeping up with demand, but contributing to efficiency, for free). This deuterium is used as fuel for the fusion auxilliary reactors, fusion impulse engines, and as one-half the reactant in the matter/anti-matter reactor powering the warp engines.

Due to its reactive nature, antimatter is too rare to "collect". It has to be generated, stored (very carefully!), and distributed to ships and other users.

TNG Trek added some ideas about ships having a minimal capacity to generate antimatter on-board, but only in tiny quantities and only as an emergency-measure.

Bussard was also an innovator on fusion reactor design (personally, I think his reactor designs will be the ones to work and take us into mankind's next major "age").
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CarlZog
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

djdood wrote:
Due to its reactive nature, antimatter is too rare to "collect". It has to be generated, stored (very carefully!), and distributed to ships and other users.


This overflows with adventure hooks.

Where is this stuff generated? A great setting for espionage.
Who controls its production and distribution? A political power struggle in any time of conflict.
How are the commercial markets for it regulated? Is there a less safe black market version? Theft and organized crime would seem like a constant consideration.
What are the dangers associated with its production and transportation? What's the worst that could happen?
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djdood
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CarlZog wrote:
What's the worst that could happen?


100+ megaton explosion in an urban area.

Antimatter in any kind of real quantity would be terrifying stuff.

It's not like nuclear fuels, where you really, really have to work to make them go "boom" (lots of precision timing electronics and machining to make a device to put them in the right extreme conditions).

For antimatter, all you have to do is stop trying to keep it from going "boom", for even a microsecond. If the magnetic bottle insulating it falters in the smallest way, the antimatter will instantly react with the matter of the vessel containing it, converting both to energy in higher than nuclear reaction quantities (which is why it's needed for warp drive; to get that almost inconceivable energy output).

Given its dangers, I'm sure the stuff is incredibly regulated and policed. However TNG started treating it almost like gasoline (with Wesley "borrowing" some for experiments, etc.) - I think that was one of the dumber ideas in TNG.

Adventure hooks abound, indeed.

I could see using tv shows like "24" as a bit of a template. The idea of an antimatter terrorist or blackmail from a foreign power or the Orions is pretty scary stuff and would make for compelling scenarios.

Why blackmail a city, when you can threaten an entire planet?
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Carthaginian
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 6:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In a some of the Trek Novels (which are 'unofficial' for canon purposes), I remember seeing something about an anti-matter production facility on the Moon. Also, this is the tack that Masao Okazaki uses in his 'Starfleet Museum' timeline (my second-favorite Trek timeline).

This would probably be the safest place to put something like a giant bomb.
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djdood
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That didn't work out so well for Moonbase Alpha. Those poor people...
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Scoutdad
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

djdood wrote:
That didn't work out so well for Moonbase Alpha. Those poor people...

I recently picked up the entire Space: 1999 series on DVD. I'd forgotten how cheesy the episodes were. Then I rewatched U F O on DVD and it did seem quite so bad after all.
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archon96
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dont forget that the photon torps in stng use antimatter core for detonation. so a ship would need to be able to produce the warheads while a field. I dont think you'd want all of those torps to be preloaded and sitting around in storage.
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gurps_gm
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Space 1999's rationale for the Moon being blasted out of orbit had some "mysterious magnetic radiation." I remember older guys in one of my classes laughing about it.
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djdood
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 5:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

archon96 wrote:
dont forget that the photon torps in stng use antimatter core for detonation. so a ship would need to be able to produce the warheads while a field. I dont think you'd want all of those torps to be preloaded and sitting around in storage.


The photon torpedoes in the TOS source material for the SFU also rely on a matter/antimatter warhead. The show never really defined things beyond that, but fluff text in the SFU has said that the torpedo casings are stored in bulk. The antimatter is added to them during the arming cycle (and is part of why they can only use "warp power" to arm them in SFB).

They would indeed be a liability if they were "pre-loaded" with antimatter. The ships main antimatter storage bottles are risk enough.

gurps_gm wrote:
Space 1999's rationale for the Moon being blasted out of orbit had some "mysterious magnetic radiation." I remember older guys in one of my classes laughing about it.


They mention some weird radiation causing the massive amount of nuclear waste to go critical, but it detonating in a mega-blast is what sends the Moon careening off to adventure and disco music.
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Scoutdad
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 5:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good thing is careened out of orbit, instead of pulling a Praxis on us...
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