What’s the matter?

Chemistry / 7 min read / 30 September 2021

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Lazy Science Reader,

We all know about matter. Anything which has mass and volume is matter. But have you heard about antimatter? Let’s get into it.

As the name suggests, antimatter is the opposite of normal matter. In modern physics, antimatter can be defined as matter composed of the antiparticles of the corresponding particles in normal matter. Sounds confusing? To understand it clearly, we know that the charge of a proton is positive and charge of an electron is negative; however, in antimatter the charge of a proton is negative and known as ‘antiproton’ whereas the charge of electron is positive and called ‘positron’. What this means is that the properties of antimatter are opposite to those of usual matter. So, the masses of the two substances are equal, with the difference lying in the fundamental or sub-atomic particles.

The concept might seem more like a hypothesis so one might ask- does antimatter really exists? The answer is: Yes, it does exist. It has been put forward that during the process of creation of the Universe, so much energy was released that it was converted into an equal amount of matter and antimatter. This refers to the fact that if matter and antimatter meet, huge bursts of pure energy will be produced; the amount produced will be so high that it’ll create a destructive explosion.

Antimatter is found in very small amounts whereas matter is all around us. But they were supposedly produced in equal amounts, so how did matter came to dominate?

Physicians believe that subtle differences in the behavior of matter and antimatter led to a slight excess of matter in the early Universe.

Antimatter can be found in natural processes. Tiny amounts of antimatter rain down on the Earth in the form of cosmic rays( energetic particles from space). Although it can also be artificially generated, only a few nanograms have been produced due to the high cost of production and storage. The minimum antimatter needed for application is 1 milligram which takes about $ 100 billion.

Antimatter can be used in medicine with scientists studying it as a potential candidate for cancer therapy. With the amount of energy that can be made possible with antimatter, it can also prove to be a popular vehicle fuel for future explorations of space and beyond.


  • Antimatter was discovered when English physicist Paul Dirac first predicted it’s existence by stating every particle in the Universe would have a mirror image.
  • Antimatter is studied in particle decelerators which are storage rings that can capture and slow antiprotons.
  • With a whopping $62.5 trillion per gram, antimatter is the most expensive substance on Earth.
  • Works of science fiction have not left this interesting particle out, with references in books and films such as ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Angels and Demons’.


Cover image: By Marcin Białek - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5257227