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Italian scientists are helping to understand the properties of that stuff of science fiction: antimatter.

Research on this subject, which may one day in the not too distant future lead to antimatter based power sources for space vehicles, has been carried out at CERN by Italian brain boxes from the University of Brescia, I read in a recent article in La Corriere Della Sera.  Actually, Italian scientists have been trying to get to grips with this mysterious material for many a year.

Italian Enthusiasm for Antimatter

One Beppo Occialini explored the relationships between electrons and positrons way back in the 1930s, and another Italian physicist, Emilio Segré attempted to understand more about antimatter in the 1950s.  Indeed, for Italian scientists finding out what antimatter is and how it behaves has been something of a challenge they have taken up with relish.

It is not beyond the realms of possibility that technology based in part on the work of Italian scientists will help take us to our local neighbourhood planets, Mars, for example, in the not too distant future.

NASA Knows Antimatter Can Facilitate Space Exploration

NASA knows that anti-matter can be used to power spacecraft, as the article ‘New and Improved Antimatter Spaceship for Mars Missions’ shows and is beavering away trying establish how this can be achieved.

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Apparently antimatter space drives have a tendency to produce lots of gamma rays, and gamma rays, as NASA puts it so well “are like x-rays on steroids”.  This means that they are not that safe for us wee humans to be around.  Gamma rays will also tend to turn spacecraft engines radioactive, which is not healthy either.

Small Steps Matter

I won’t go into great detail regarding the Italian discovery, but what has been achieved means that the world is a small step closer to being able to use antimatter more safely.  As mentioned before, it was a team from the University of Brescia led by Evandro Lodi-Rizzini who have been bringing the world closer to understanding how to handle anti-matter.  Should you wish to know about the details of the Italian’s teams work, pop over to this article: Antimatter Bounces Off Matter, over on the appropriately named The Future of Things site.

The Italian contribution in this particularly complex field is not to be underestimated, and will no doubt continue.

For people like me who have always found the idea of manned space exploration fascinating, any and all progress is worthy of note.

This definitely qualifies as a ‘Good Italian Thing’!

PS If you click on the image at the top of this post, you will be taken to a CERN site dedicated to all things antimatter.  Just in case you’d like to know more – Alex.

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