What is antimatter?
(Lansing State Journal, October 21, 1992)
All matter is made up of collections of tiny subatomic particles, protons, electrons, etc. Each of these particles has a mass and a charge. By measuring a particle’s mass and charge, scientists can determine what type of particle it is.
In 1930, an English physicist named Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac suggested that for every particle there should be another particle with the same mass but with opposite charge. These particles are called antimatter.
For example, an electron has on unit of negative charge and the positron (or anti-electron) has the same mass as the electron but has one unit of positive charge.
If a particle and its antiparticle ever contact with one another, they would both be destroyed and their mass turned into energy in the form of light. This is the efficient way of converting mass to energy.
Twenty-five pounds of matter annihilating with 25 pounds of antimatter would provide energy enough to fill the needs of the state of New York for one year.
This may sound like a perfect energy source, but it takes as much energy to create antimatter as one gets from destroying it.