The Understated Role of Antimatter in Interstellar

The Understated Role of Antimatter in Interstellar

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Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar remains the top movie of 2014, and rightfully so with an exciting plot laced with lauded scientific theories. Many aspects of the film have been explored: wormholes, black holes, time-space relativity, and so much more.

What remains to be understated is the energy that the spacecraft used to reach the wormhole, travel to the planets, and navigate near the supermassive black hole. Existing technologies cannot provide the energy harnessed in the Interstellar space travel.

Propulsion system

The Interstellar film’s plot was highly dependent upon interstellar propulsion physics, yet not much of it was explained. It may be because it leans more towards the fiction rather than the science. However, that does not mean that there are no scientific theories backing it up.

There are many competing ideas on how to realize interstellar propulsion. One notable idea is antimatter drives. Observational cosmologist Mandeep Gill theorized that Interstellar used antimatter drives which will take very little room. Antimatter as fuel requires very little amount since matter-antimatter collisions provide a 100 percent efficient way to extract energy from matter.

To put the extracted amount of energy into perspective, one only has to compare it to the 1908 Tunguska explosion in Siberia that was devastated by antimatter asteroids. The asteroids had the energy equivalent of one thousand Hiroshima atomic bombs, yet it left no crater or residue in the ground, and excited the entire Earth atmosphere for days.

Antimatter in millennia

In reality, the antimatter created on Earth is less than a microgram and is extremely expensive to produce. The atom smasher at CERN in Geneva barely made tiny amounts of anti-hydrogen gas (anti-electrons circling around antiprotons), add to this the expensive process of creating antimatter samples. It may take many centuries or millennia to bring down its cost so that it can be used for space flight.

However, there was a recent confirmation of the first detection of antimatter galaxies, cosmic rays, and asteroids via the groundbreaking Santilli Telescope produced by Thunder Energies Corporation (OTCQB: TNRG). The answer to the perennial question of “Where did antimatter go?” after the Big Bang Theory may now be closer than ever.

A study that will also help solve antimatter’s mystery is CERN’s Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) Experiment that aims to harness matter-antimatter power from the antimatter in space for technological advancements

Interstellar travel is from zero to two

The detection of antimatter in space brings us closer to the possibility of antimatter drives as propulsion systems. Reaching a higher form of energy source also signals the advancement of civilization. Russian astrophysicist Nicolai Kardashev developed rankings of possible civilizations on the basis of total energy output. Today’s Earth is Type 0, which means men are harnessing the planet’s energy but not to its full potential yet. Predictions say that the Earth will move to Type I status in about 100 to 200 years, where controlling the total energy of Earth will bring about total geological control.

Photo credit: Wikipedia
Photo credit: Wikipedia

In a few thousand years, Type II will follow. Antimatter propulsion belongs to Type II, as this civilization harnesses the energy output of a star or other outer space entities and generates about 10 billion times the energy output of a Type I civilization. A Type II civilization might be able to manipulate the power of solar flares. This may resemble the Federation of Planets seen in Star Trek.

The Type III status, which is said to be in about 100,000 to a million years, controls the energy of an entire galaxy. This civilization can manipulate space-time, and entities in the universe are all manipulable. Almost godlike powers in a sense, Type III status would be threatened with extinction only by the death of the universe itself

However, for people and audiences who watched Interstellar, it could be very easy to overlook safety considerations in antimatter propulsions. According to astrophysicist Ernst Julius Öpik, "The exhaust power of the antimatter rocket would equal the solar energy power received by the earth - all in gamma rays.” He added that “the problem may not be how to shield the payload, the problem is to shield the earth.”

The Interstellar film was advanced enough in its technology that it has solved these risks, which is something to look forward to, even with thousands-of-years work to do.

Emma Cox

Emma Cox

Sometimes I forget that there are movies outside the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Harry Potter franchise, but then I remember science fiction movies.