Does the human body produce antimatter?

Updated on : December 3, 2021 by Harvey Clark



Does the human body produce antimatter?

Yes. The human body has spatial dimensions and follows the laws of physics. The Heisenberg uncertainty principle of time and energy requires that the energy within any system never be equal to zero. According to quantum mechanics, this energy exists in the form of vacuum energy, pairs of virtual particles of antimatter and matter. These pairs of virtual particles can be turned into "real" particles if given enough energy to generally escape the energy created by gamma decay.

Yes! A typical human body (70 kg) contains around 5000 Bq of potassium-40, which means that there are around 5000 K-40 decay events per second. K-40 mainly undergoes beta decay and sometimes electron capture, but about one decay in 100,000 is a positron emission (positron emission in K⁴⁰ decay). So, a few times per minute, your body produces a positron, which is an antimatter electron.

Actually, the correct way to ask this question is "If energy cannot be destroyed ..." Energy! Because even if energy is in a state of matter, it is still energy.

Well. The answer to your question. Energy in our universe exists in many forms. Only within matter, we have three states. Solid, liquid and gaseous. Energy, as we see it in its basic point of view, can come in many forms or states as well, something called the EM Spectrum or electromagnetic spectrum ... Microwave, Radio, Infrared, Optical, Ultraviolet, X-Ray, Gamma. We also got the strong and weak nuclear forces and, of course, gravity.

But that part I am

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Actually, the correct way to ask this question is "If energy cannot be destroyed ..." Energy! Because even if energy is in a state of matter, it is still energy.

Well. The answer to your question. Energy in our universe exists in many forms. Only within matter, we have three states. Solid, liquid and gaseous. Energy, as we see it in its basic point of view, can come in many forms or states as well, something called the EM Spectrum or electromagnetic spectrum ... Microwave, Radio, Infrared, Optical, Ultraviolet, X-Ray, Gamma. We also got the strong and weak nuclear forces and, of course, gravity.

But that part I referred to earlier is what we know. Things like Dark Matter or Energy, are mostly or totally unknown to us about how they work, what they are made of. And in that sense we are talking about most of the universe. Matter is just a grain of sand on the beach. Compared to the other parts.

We also have black holes, which again we have no idea what they actually do. As far as we know, Black Holes are just another way for the universe to transform something into something else. Perhaps black holes convert the energy and matter they absorb into them, into dark matter and dark energy, in different amounts.

And if that's the case, even though the universe is expanding, the amount of energy is always the same, compared to what it was at the beginning. Nothing was really lost, it just changed. And matter, which contains mass, generates gravitational attraction and attracts each other, then matter offers resistance to things like Dark Energy. So the more regular matter turns into those exotic forms, the more the universe expands. Not because energy is being added to it, but because what resists that expansion is gradually and constantly becoming what is causing the expansion.

The first "noticeable effect" of antimatter exposure would be deterministic radiation injury, because antimatter rapidly annihilates in contact with normal matter and produces energetic particles and photon radiation.

The nature of the annihilation radiation depends on the energy and the species of the antimatter particles.

  • Low-energy positrons are annihilated with electrons to produce moderately penetrating gamma radiation that would distribute the dose throughout the body and would likely manifest as inflammation, decreased white blood cell count, and possibly more severe symptoms of acute radiation syndrome.
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The first "noticeable effect" of antimatter exposure would be deterministic radiation injury, because antimatter rapidly annihilates in contact with normal matter and produces energetic particles and photon radiation.

The nature of the annihilation radiation depends on the energy and the species of the antimatter particles.

  • Low-energy positrons are annihilated with electrons to produce moderately penetrating gamma radiation that would distribute the dose throughout the body and would likely manifest as inflammation, decreased white blood cell count, and possibly more severe symptoms of acute radiation syndrome in question. hours or days, depending on the exposure. . However, it would have to be hit by trillions of positrons in a short period of time for these effects to begin to appear. Lower exposures would not have a noticeable effect, but they would proportionally increase your risk of cancer later in life.
  • Heavy antiprotons, antineutrons, and antinuclei have much more rest mass energy to distribute than positrons, and they tend to form pions and kaons in the event of annihilation that can cause tremendous local tissue damage relative to gamma rays. If subjected to collimated monoenergetic beams of such particles, individual organs could be severely damaged by the resulting radiation and the resulting injuries would vary depending on the target organ. If the skin were overexposed to such antimatter at rest, I would expect cutaneous erythema and burns to be the dominant effect. Again, exposure to smaller amounts of antimatter would still give you a dose of radiation and a corresponding risk of cancer, but not a dose sufficient to cause injury.
  • Any charged antiparticle that is energetic enough is ionizing radiation in its own right, so you have to consider that.

What would happen if we touched the antimatter?

Well, that depends.

How did you get close enough to a chunk of antimatter large enough that "touching" it made any sense and survived with enough of your body still intact that you could touch it?

Hint: If it comes in contact with * any * normal matter (which includes the atmosphere and even the Sun's solar wind), it will pair up with normal matter in equal amounts and be converted to energy. Lots of energy.

As in "Hiroshima-sized Kaboom" for every gram of antimatter involved.

And if you have a * large * chunk (let's say it's worth a few kilograms), the fi

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What would happen if we touched the antimatter?

Well, that depends.

How did you get close enough to a chunk of antimatter large enough that "touching" it made any sense and survived with enough of your body still intact that you could touch it?

Hint: If it comes in contact with * any * normal matter (which includes the atmosphere and even the Sun's solar wind), it will pair up with normal matter in equal amounts and be converted to energy. Lots of energy.

As in "Hiroshima-sized Kaboom" for every gram of antimatter involved.

And if you have a * large * chunk (let's say it's worth a few kilograms), the first kaboom spreads the rest all over the place, so you can have your own smaller kabooms.

(If a large mass were to enter the Solar System, we would see it as a very bright gamma ray source until the end of Neptune's orbit when the solar wind begins to destroy it and release energy - this is how we know nearby stars or even galaxies are all normal matter and there are no significant amounts of antimatter anywhere in the observable universe. If there were an antimatter galaxy anywhere, the anti-hydrogen atoms at its outer edges would collide with the hydrogen atoms at the outer edges of a normal galaxy, and we would see the characteristic brightness of gamma rays).

If it does. A hydrogen atom is made up of two particles: a proton and an electron. Although it is actually much more complex, let's say the electron orbits the proton, like the Earth orbits the Sun. The proton remains in place while the electron rotates. They are attracted to the charge they carry (unlike the Earth and the Sun, which are attracted to their mass). We know that there are two different charges: positive and negative, and no charge. Nothing says that any particle should be charged. And different charges attack, while they simply repel each other. Now the electron has a negative

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If it does. A hydrogen atom is made up of two particles: a proton and an electron. Although it is actually much more complex, let's say the electron orbits the proton, like the Earth orbits the Sun. The proton remains in place while the electron rotates. They are attracted to the charge they carry (unlike the Earth and the Sun, which are attracted to their mass). We know that there are two different charges: positive and negative, and no charge. Nothing says that any particle should be charged. And different charges attack, while they simply repel each other. Now the electron has a negative charge and a proton a positive one. But does it matter if they have that exact setup? I mean, if they were both positive, they would never come together to form an atom, but what if the electron was positive and the proton negative?
Good question. What you get is antimatter.

Simply put, antimatter is like matter, except that all charges are reversed. So you have an antihydrogen atom, with a negative proton and a positive electron (such antielectrons are generally called positrons).

It is not just theoretical. Antiparticles are often the breakdown product of other unstable particles. In that case, a particle breaks down into two smaller particles, one a normal particle and the other its antiparticle twin. This is due to a conservation law that says you cannot "charge". It is an amount that cannot be changed. So if you have a particle with no charge decay, it decays into a positive and a negative particle, so the net charge is 0.
(There is another thing that antiparticles have reversed: it is a quantum property called spin. They are not actually spinning backwards, the name spin is a poor choice of words. I mean, there is absolutely nothing in our world that looks like it. to that property that a particle has what we call spin. It's because the world on such small scales is really different from ours! Anyway, there is a law of conservation of spin, and that's why antiparticles have different spin) .

Those unstable particles that break down into matter and antimatter come from outer space, perhaps from stars or supernovae. They are constantly drilling into the atmosphere and have done so since Earth formed (and developed an atmosphere), so there is nothing to worry about.

We can also create them here on Earth. That's what cyclotrons like the LHC do all the time. A cyclotron accelerates a charged particle and breaks it against another particle. The accelerated particle has a large amount of energy, and when it collides, part of the energy is transformed into mass (E = mc ^ 2), that is, into some new particles. These new particles are unstable and break down into matter and antimatter. Then we collect the antimatter.

But what happens when you smash an electron and an antielectron? You get energy. That is called annihilation. Energy is released in the form of gamma rays that carry enormous amounts of energy. One gram of matter and one gram of antimatter would produce an explosion the size of the Hiroshima nuclear. However, at this rate, it would take a few billion years to make a gram.

Now, there are some mysteries. The Earth is entirely matter. The Moon too (if not, the Apollo 11 landing would make an explosion brighter than the Sun!). In fact, all we can see with telescopes is matter. If matter and antimatter form together, where is all the antimatter? We do not know the answer.
Second, if antimatter is a "mirror image" of matter, would the left and right be reversed? We don't even know if gravity affects antimatter in the same way as matter (some think that the mass of antimatter is repelled by the mass of matter).

I hope this helps!

It is correct that electrons in objects repel electrons in other objects, causing them to never actually "touch" each other.

This is true for everything in the universe, from asteroids to supernovae, from baseball to planets, the force of force between electrons makes the nuclei of atoms never touch.

The problem with thinking about this is that our definition of touch hasn't really changed. Touch has always been thought of as the contact of macroscopic objects, but our definition of "contact" is what has changed. We discovered that contact is when electrons in objects repel each other.

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It is correct that electrons in objects repel electrons in other objects, causing them to never actually "touch" each other.

This is true for everything in the universe, from asteroids to supernovae, from baseball to planets, the force of force between electrons makes the nuclei of atoms never touch.

The problem with thinking about this is that our definition of touch hasn't really changed. Touch has always been thought of as the contact of macroscopic objects, but our definition of "contact" is what has changed. We found that contact is when electrons in objects repel each other and, on a macroscopic level, it feels like a force.

In fact, we have discovered how atoms at the microscopic level behave in very contradictory strange ways, and this is an example of one.

Edit: Here's a fantastic video from Michael Stevens where he describes all of this, but in much more detail:

You can't touch anything

I will assume that this is not a fatuous question and that you don't really understand or have never been taught basic chemistry.

All matter, including human bodies, is made up of atoms.

Unless it is in the form of plasma (above 10,000 ° C), matter exists in three forms: gas, liquid, or solid.

Atoms are made up of protons, the number of which determines the atomic number or element, for example, carbon has 6, oxygen has 8, etc. Also, atoms can contain neutrons, exceeding the number of protons. The different numbers determine the isotope of a given element, and the combined number of protons and neutrons determines the

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I will assume that this is not a fatuous question and that you don't really understand or have never been taught basic chemistry.

All matter, including human bodies, is made up of atoms.

Unless it is in the form of plasma (above 10,000 ° C), matter exists in three forms: gas, liquid, or solid.

Atoms are made up of protons, the number of which determines the atomic number or element, for example, carbon has 6, oxygen has 8, etc. Also, atoms can contain neutrons, exceeding the number of protons. Different numbers determine the isotope of a given element, and the combined number of protons and neutrons determines the atomic weight. Hydrogen (atomic number 1) has no neutrons, but its isotopes deuterium and tritium have 1 and 2, making the atomic weights 1, 2, and 3.

The atomic weight is given as the average of natural hydrogen, that is, batches of 1H, plus traces of 2H and 3H = 1.008H on average.

Finally, atoms have electrons (negatively charged), equal to the number of protons (positive), whose charge they cancel. If an atom drops one or more electrons, it becomes positively charged, if it gains them, it becomes negatively charged. The charged atoms are called ions.

So yes, your body is made up of all of the above, in liquid, solid, and gaseous forms.

No, the biggest concern is the radioactive isotopes of strontium and cesium absorbed by the human body. They have a long enough half-life to stay and be collected and concentrated in food and will then be absorbed into your body, bones, and organs. They have a short enough half-life that they are considerably radioactive and emit radiation to your body's tissues that can cause harm if you get enough of them.

In the sense that they are radioactive, they are a bit unstable. However, their stability or radioactivity does not change in any way when absorbed by the body.

CERN has routinely produced antihydrogen since 1995.

Antihydrogen at CERN: 20 years old and strong

Antideuterium, antithritium, and anthelium nuclei have also been produced (3 and 4), but they could not be slowed down enough to add positons and examine them at rest.

Can the energy produced by the annihilation of matter and antimatter during a PET scan harm the human body?

In principle, it can, but as Matthew Johnson pointed out, this energy is like a gamma ray of a frequency that is absorbed fifteen times less intensely than any X-ray used for diagnostic purposes. The excess 873 keV energy from the emitted positron is more problematic, as it has to be absorbed locally before the electron from the positron is annihilated. This makes the total dose many times that of a diagnostic X-ray; for some procedures it is equivalent to 5 years flying for the average

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Can the energy produced by the annihilation of matter and antimatter during a PET scan harm the human body?

In principle, it can, but as Matthew Johnson pointed out, this energy is like a gamma ray of a frequency that is absorbed fifteen times less intensely than any X-ray used for diagnostic purposes. The excess 873 keV energy from the emitted positron is more problematic, as it has to be absorbed locally before the electron from the positron is annihilated. This makes the total dose many times that of a diagnostic X-ray; for some procedures, it is equivalent to 5 years of flying for the average airline pilot. Combinations of PET-CT scans can give almost double the dose.
Cost is not the only reason that the use of positron emission tomography will continue to be limited.

Sun: 1.99E30 kg

Earth: 5.96E24 kg 1

The sun is ~ 3.33E05 (330 thousand) times more massive than Earth.

Footnotes

1 Planetary data sheet

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