The struggle between matter and antimatter in the Universe by
Prof. Stephen Olsen
Open Cource Wares Wednesday 11 May 2011
In Angels & Demons, the bestselling novel by Dan Brown and film starring Tom Hanks, a small amount of antimatter is stolen from the CERN particle physics laboratory in Geneva Switzerland and hidden in Rome where it is used as a threat to destroy the Vatican. An exciting chase through the treasured historic sites in Rome ensues with tension building as the countdown to the Vatican’s destruction times out. Is this scenario feasible? What is this antimatter that is so dangerous? How does it differ from matter? How do you make it? Can it really be used as a weapon of mass destruction? If not, is it good for anything? In any case, why do physicists study it? The speaker, who has done research on antimatter for many years, will answer all of these questions, but probably not in as breathtaking a fashion as the narration by author Dan Brown, or as portrayal by actor Tom Hanks.