It has been another exciting year for physics research, particularly
in my own field. In Australia, we have a Centre of Excellence for
Antimatter-Matter Studies, of which I am the Deputy Director. As you
may know, when antimatter and matter come together, they annihilate
converting their mass to immense energy via Einstein's
e=mc2. This also works backwards,
if we have immense energy, then we can create
matter-antimatter pairs. This reverse process has recently been observed in
extreme lightning storms. So next time you see lightning, think that
antimatter is being created somewhere in the atmosphere.
In fact antimatter is not as uncommon as you might
think. Antielectrons, or positrons, are used in our hospitals to
detect cancer via Positron Emission Tomography. It is also used
extensively in the study of material properties. The most common source of
antimatter is radioactive decay.
However, one of the greatest applications of antimatter is in science
fiction. How many of you have heard of Star Trek? There spacecraft are
powered by antimatter to travel faster than the speed of light. While
there is much physics that science fiction writers get right, this one
they got wrong. Consequently, the world-renowned cosmologist Professor
Lawrence Krauss was
driven to write this popular science book on "The physics of Star Trek".
I met him recently and invited him to WA to give a public
promised to come and speak on "Creating the Universe out of Nothing" sometime in our winter. He is a fantastic speaker,
with lectures available on YouTube, and I encourage you all to attend.
Now, it gives me great pleasure to award this book-prize to your best
year-11 physics student of 2010, ...
mailto: Igor Bray