If there is anti-matter, couldn't there be anti-energy?
Asked by: Renji Thomas
When people speak of anti-matter, it's important to recognize that anti-matter isn't some
sort of 'negative' matter. An anti-particle is just as real as any other particle. If you
use Einstein's famous E=mc2 relation you find that an anti-particle has positive energy,
since it has a mass which is identical to the mass of its partner 'particle.' The 'anti-'
part of the name just signifies the fact that the quantum numbers that the particle
has are opposite of those of the corresponding particle. Most people have heard that
anti-matter annihilates with matter and gives rise to energy. This is a result of the two
particles having exactly opposite quantum numbers -- but 'particles' in our everyday world
annihilate into new particles all the time too.
Energy, by contrast, is a relative concept. The important physical quantity is the
difference in energy between any two states of a system. We thus always speak of positive
energy values and typically eliminate solutions which give rise to negative energies as
unphysical. In short, then, the existence of anti-matter does not imply the existence of
some sort of anti-energy.
Answered by: Brent Nelson, M.A. Physics, Ph.D. Student, UC Berkeley
'In a way science is a key to the gates of heaven, and the same key opens the gates of hell, and we do not have any instructions as to which is which gate.
Shall we throw away the key and never have a way to enter the gates of heaven? Or shall we struggle with the problem of which is the best way to use the key?'