by Eric Pettifor
Canadian researchers (and others, but we’ll focus on lauding our countrypersons) at CERN near North Battleford, Saskatchewan (ok, CERN is really in Switzerland, but it should be in Saskatchewan) have managed to capture and contain antimatter for a whopping 17 minutes (layperson friendly description here).
You realize, of course, that this means warp drive is just around the corner. The energy that is released when matter meets antimatter is so great that it can power star ships. Assuming our first attempts only yield a speed of warp one, and that we’ve only got 17 minutes of travel, that is much more than enough time to get to Mars. This will make colonization much more feasible. It’s a one way trip if the tank of gas only lasts 17 minutes, assuming we want to look around and do some science or whatever, so the first load will have to be the equipment necessary to capture more antimatter (in the case of this latest achievement, antihydrogen) for the return trip.
With advances in star ship technology, we will soon be able to reach the stars. As everyone knows, the conversion of warp to lightspeed is given by the equation v = w10/3c (yes, I know that only applies for warps one through nine), so with even a humble warp five ship we can expect to be saying hi to our neighbours in Alpha Centauri (only four light years away) in the near future.
Granted, there are a few barriers still to be overcome. Until we can find an extra-terrestrial source of dilithium crystals to govern the matter/antimatter reaction, we’ll have to use a much less efficient lithium derivative in magnetic field, or possibly some sort of tweaked fusion reactor (this could be a very short term problem if we’re befriended by the Vulcans early on).
Then there’s the problem of capturing enough antimatter to provide the necessary energy to generate a subspace field. We’re not quite there yet, as noted by researcher Dr. Rob Thompson — "We’ve been able to trap about 38 atoms, which is an incredibly small amount, nothing like what we would need to power Star Trek’s starship Enterprise or even to heat a cup of coffee."
So there it is; first we achieve the research objective of a matter/antimatter coffee maker, and then ad astra — to the stars.