Antimatter, By Frank Close

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The Independent Culture

The sexy title might come from sci-fi, but this is the real world or, to be more precise, its antithesis. Some believe that the Tunguska event of 1908, which vaporised an area of Russian forest as big as London, was caused by antimatter. Sadly for the scientifically credulous, Close blames the blast on a comet.

As Professor of Physics at Oxford, he is an excellent tipster on matter and antimatter. Both were created in equal amounts at the time of the Big Bang, though antimatter is now harder to find. Even if you can get your hands on some, how can you store "an all destructive substance"?

In his admirably lucid guide, Close says that antimatter particles will not provide buckshee energy or become "the most deadly weapon". Its most important function may be in helping us understand the Big Bang, where plus and minus began.