Anonymous
Anonymous asked in Science & MathematicsPhysics · 3 months ago

# How can an antimatter reactor actually power a spaceship?

Okay so here's the dilemma. On StarTrek they have a matter/anti-matter reactor ( M/Arc for short) that powers the ship. However in real life there's no way to actually extract energy from a M/Arc. It could only be used as a rocket to produce thrust via controlled explosion.

Even on Earth the best you could use a M/Arc for would be as a heat source in an EXTREMELY powerful boiler to make steam to spin a turbine ( like real-life nuclear fission and hypothetical fusion plants would) So how exactly could they keep the lights on in a starship? Obviously The Enterprise and all fictional ships with a M/Arc aren't carrying around a gazillion gallons of water in the hold for steam generation and thus electricity production.

TL,DR How can you design a matter/anti-matter reactor that generates electricity in a spaceship?

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• 3 months ago

When the Enterprise goes from zero to warp 5 in seconds, everything inside would be splattered (painted, even) on the rear bulhead. What keeps everyone alive? The inertial dampers.

Someone asked Gene Roddenberry how do the inertial dampeners work on Star Trek?

His answer: "They work very well, thank you."

I suspect it is the same thing with the antimatter reactor, as long as you have sufficiently fresh Dilithium crystals.

In the real world, when antimatter and matter annihilate each other, their respective mass (and internal binding energy) is transformed into energy, usually in the form of very hard photons (gamma rays - well above X-rays on the spectrum). If you can find a way to absorb this energy, you can turn it into heat to create electricity in the conventional way.

As for propulsion, you could transform this energy into photons of light at a wavelength that can easily be controlled (e.g., visible, UV) so that it can be "beamed" (in the traditional way) towards the back.  This mode of propulsion (already used on certain probes, like DAWN) only provides slow acceleration but, given that it works continuously, it does add up.

You can also use the energy to ionize atoms and project them towards the back (also slow) or use it to cause sudden expansion of massive material (the classical example being vaporizing liquid water - thus multiplying its volume by almost 2000 times - and expelling it towards the back). However, for a spaceship the size of the Enterprise, this would require megatons of water every day.

On StarTrek, they use the energy for the purpose of folding gravity in the spacetime continuum (whatever that means) into a wave, then the ship "slips" by sliding down the wave . The closest analogy would be if you had a surface ship capable of creating a wave under itself, at the surface of the ocean, and riding "down" that wave just like a surfer. If you carry this wave with you (it remains static relative to the ship), then your ship can ride the wave all the way across the ocean.

• 3 months ago

First problem:  producing and storing anti-matter.  Second problem: capturing and using the energy of the gamma rays produced by a matter – anti-matter reaction to accelerate reaction mass (or perhaps to warp the space around the ship to simulate ultra-light speeds).

• 3 months ago

Well, you see it's like this.  The di-lithijum crystals intercept the the blujesus rays from  the M/Arc, and flounce the universal axis of the kromacken wheels. Otherwise known as the script writers making up stuff with scienfictionly words.

• 3 months ago

We could use antimatter in exactly the way you said. It would generate heat to boil water to turn a turbine. A loop of wire must turn in a magnetic field in order to generate electricity.

• Zirp
Lv 7
3 months ago

and have it go faster than light?

Nobody knows and according to all serious theories it can't

• F''''3 months agoReport

No, not talking about what ever psuedo science they use to explain away FTL. Just how would a spaceship use a M/Arc to generate electricity.

• 3 months ago

Don't even try to explain how an antimatter reactor works it's total nonsense because nobody has ever created one. Back when I was younger I wanted to be one of the first people to play with antimatter and see what it did. I heard that you could take to cathode ray tubes and introduce high voltage to the wires to produce tachyons antimatter particles. So at age 17 I rigged up my to cathode ray emitters and through 5000 volts at it from a transformer that I stole borrowed because I did put it back. The result was an implosion and I mean I wicked implosion. I did it out in a country area and it sucked in everything within about a 500-foot circle. And disappeared into nothingness there wasn't even glass shards left. Nothing to show what I done I wouldn't want to go messing around with antimatter it's dangerous stuff.

• Zirp
Lv 7
3 months agoReport

cool story bro