Author Topic: Possibly Stupid Questions About Cosmology  (Read 2426 times)

Possibly Stupid Questions About Cosmology
« on: June 15, 2013, 12:59:19 PM »
I am certainly no expert in cosmology, as will soon become obvious, but I'm writing a sci-fi-ish short story and I want to be authentic as possible - even though the premise may be completely absurd. The story is almost purely allegorical, so the absurdity doesn't bother me so much - just want it to be (semi) believable. I am doing a bit of my own research, but I know people have differing opinions.

1 - Could a "planet" of anti-matter exist? If not, could anti-matter destroy a planet in some way? If not, I've got to rethink my disaster.

2 - If so, let's say it collided with earth. Would there be instant mutual annihilation? Would there be a process of annihilation? What could we expect to experience, if anything, during such an occurrence?

3 - Could you speculate how such an event would be studied and documented, perhaps for the benefit of another civilization on another planet?

4 - Wormholes - do we know if or how information can pass through them? Are there hypotheses? Perhaps wave signals?

I may have more questions, and thanks in advance. I know all this is theoretical, but I'd like to stay within bounds as much as I can. You know how it is - CBS Sports once got in trouble for using a sound effects track during a golf tournament because someone watching it on TV noticed the bird chirps were from birds that are not native to the area where the tournament was... and called in to complain.

If it gets published, someone will pick it apart.
Because LaPlace still holds sway.

Offline Solitary

Re: Possibly Stupid Questions About Cosmology
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2013, 01:30:17 PM »
Not stupid in the least! In fact very good questions.

1 - Could a "planet" of anti-matter exist? If not, could anti-matter destroy a planet in some way? If not, I've got to rethink my disaster.

Not only a planet, but a whole universe could.

2 - If so, let's say it collided with earth. Would there be instant mutual annihilation? Would there be a process of annihilation? What could we expect to experience, if anything, during such an occurrence?

Yes. Yes, all matter would turn into energy. No.

3 - Could you speculate how such an event would be studied and documented, perhaps for the benefit of another civilization on another planet?

It already has been studied and documented on an atomic scale and mathematically.

4 - Wormholes - do we know if or how information can pass through them? Are there hypotheses? Perhaps wave signals?

"If worm holes exist, they could provide shortcuts between distant points in space.  The idea of worm holes  between different regions of space-time is not an invention of science fiction writers; it came from a very respectable source. In  1935, Einstein and Nathan Rosen wrote a paper in which they showed that general relativity allowed what they called bridges, but which are now known as wormholes. However, the Einstein-Rosen bridges didn't last long enough for a spaceship to pass through; the spaceship would run into a singularity as the wormhole pinched off." Stephen Hawking
 If an advanced civilization found a way to keep it open it would be possible. Solitary
« Last Edit: June 15, 2013, 02:23:33 PM by Solitary »
There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.

Offline Hydra009

Re: Possibly Stupid Questions About Cosmology
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2013, 01:57:40 PM »
Quote from: "Sleeper"
2 - If so, let's say it collided with earth. Would there be instant mutual annihilation? Would there be a process of annihilation? What could we expect to experience, if anything, during such an occurrence?
Let's just say that it would be a very, very bad day for anyone living on Earth.

"one gram of antimatter annihilating with one gram of matter produces 180 terajoules, the equivalent of 42.96 kilotons of TNT (approximately 3 times the bomb dropped on Hiroshima"
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Offline FrankDK

Re: Possibly Stupid Questions About Cosmology
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2013, 02:38:21 PM »
> Spoiler:

A whole new meaning of the term, "Spoiler."

Frank

Offline Colanth

Re: Possibly Stupid Questions About Cosmology
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2013, 10:18:52 PM »
Quote from: "Sleeper"
I am certainly no expert in cosmology, as will soon become obvious, but I'm writing a sci-fi-ish short story and I want to be authentic as possible - even though the premise may be completely absurd.
One way science fiction works is that you invent a new science, or a new way an old science works.  Then, as long as you don't violate the rules of your science, it's valid.

Quote
2 - If so, let's say it collided with earth. Would there be instant mutual annihilation?
Probably not.  Not so much that the universe is digital, so there's no such thing as "instantaneous", but even a matter-antimatter annihilation takes a finite [if tiny] amount of time.

Quote
Would there be a process of annihilation?
Yes.  All the matter (or antimatter) in the less massive planet would be turned into energy.  Very quickly.  The resulting explosion would probably destroy any matter left over.

Quote
What could we expect to experience, if anything, during such an occurrence?
About the same thing you can expect to experience after death, because you'd be dead (and turned to energy) faster than your brain could react to the fact that something happened.

Quote
3 - Could you speculate how such an event would be studied and documented, perhaps for the benefit of another civilization on another planet?
By us?  Not on that scale.  Nothing would be left - our thoughts, our notes, nothing.

For the benefit of another civilization?  You mean as in "if this happens to you, do the following"?  That's easy.  "If an antimatter planet collides with your planet, die."  Or "to prevent it from colliding with your planet, shoot another, larger, planet into its path while it's still very far away from you."

Quote
4 - Wormholes - do we know if or how information can pass through them? Are there hypotheses? Perhaps wave signals?
For a science fiction story, invent a science of wormholes, then stick to the rules dictated by that science.

In reality?  We speculate that something we call a wormhole is possible.  Exactly what is a wormhole?  Any of a few things that we speculate may be possible.  A solid science fiction story would have more "facts" about wormholes than science does at this point.

Quote
If it gets published, someone will pick it apart.
People picked Asimov and Heinlein apart, so you'd be in good company.
Afflicting the comfortable for 70 years.
Science builds skyscrapers, faith flies planes into them.

Re: Possibly Stupid Questions About Cosmology
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2013, 03:24:42 PM »
Great stuff, all. Thanks.

I'd do well to remember that I am writing fiction, not a doctoral thesis. I may have to revise my disaster - I'm not particularly married to the idea of an anti-matter collision. It just has to take place over a period of several weeks, maybe a couple months. It's different realm altogether, so I could come up with my own annihilation scenario.

Just don't want to wind up so far out of bounds that ordinary sci-fi fans would be turned off.
Because LaPlace still holds sway.

Re: Possibly Stupid Questions About Cosmology
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2013, 03:40:31 PM »
Quote from: "Colanth"
By us?  Not on that scale.  Nothing would be left - our thoughts, our notes, nothing.

For the benefit of another civilization?  You mean as in "if this happens to you, do the following"?  That's easy.  "If an antimatter planet collides with your planet, die."  Or "to prevent it from colliding with your planet, shoot another, larger, planet into its path while it's still very far away from you."
There's another planet similar to ours that's accessible through "gates" on earth. The explorers soon found out that the world was in the process of being destroyed (or is about to be). In the story there is a group of volunteers who are staying on the planet, basically giving their lives, to document the happenings for the benefit of us here on earth, feeding the information to us through the "gates" - which is why I asked about wormholes.
Because LaPlace still holds sway.

Offline Colanth

Re: Possibly Stupid Questions About Cosmology
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2013, 07:45:16 PM »
Wormholes are used like that in sci fi all the time.  But the time frame is all wrong.  By the time they click their pens the whole thing would be over.  It would work if you had instruments transmitting back through the gate - but I assume that you need the volunteers to be there for the story to work, and if instruments are doing the job there's no need for volunteers.

Check Analog, some time in the past 5 years or so.  There was a serial about people recording the destruction of a planet or a star.  IIRC, they set up on a nearby planet or a satellite they had put into position.  You could have a slight miscalculation cause that base to be destroyed also - long enough after the planet's destruction that they'd be able to send back data, but too soon for them to be rescued.  Or the rescue ship couldn't get to them because of some forces due to the original destruction.  (See a few Star Trek episodes for possible "forces" that could prevent a rescue.)
Afflicting the comfortable for 70 years.
Science builds skyscrapers, faith flies planes into them.

Offline Solitary

Re: Possibly Stupid Questions About Cosmology
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2013, 12:08:55 AM »
Now I understand why Einstein hated science fiction.  :lol:  Solitary
There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.

Offline Plu

Re: Possibly Stupid Questions About Cosmology
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2013, 02:10:32 AM »
If you need something slower destroying a whole planet that still sounds feasible, maybe a close encounter with a rogue star could work? Rogue stars are basically stars that aren't tied to galaxies, they move really fast and if they zoom closely past a planet that is rotating another star, it'd probably be scorched of life and then torn apart by the gravitational forces, or pulled from its orbit and spun around, which would cause all kinds of natural disasters on the surface.

(At least I'm assuming that's what would happen if you suddenly and briefly have another huge gravity source tugging at you.)
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Offline SGOS

Re: Possibly Stupid Questions About Cosmology
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2013, 07:03:21 AM »
Quote from: "Sleeper"
4 - Wormholes - do we know if or how information can pass through them? Are there hypotheses? Perhaps wave signals?
Certain types of information can easily pass through, but they have a difficult time with the Slavic languages.  They also erode the dilithium crystals and then Scotty has to recrystallize them just in time to save the ship.

Offline josephpalazzo

Re: Possibly Stupid Questions About Cosmology
« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2013, 09:10:01 AM »
Quote from: "Sleeper"
I am certainly no expert in cosmology, as will soon become obvious, but I'm writing a sci-fi-ish short story and I want to be authentic as possible - even though the premise may be completely absurd. The story is almost purely allegorical, so the absurdity doesn't bother me so much - just want it to be (semi) believable. I am doing a bit of my own research, but I know people have differing opinions.

1 - Could a "planet" of anti-matter exist? If not, could anti-matter destroy a planet in some way? If not, I've got to rethink my disaster.

2 - If so, let's say it collided with earth. Would there be instant mutual annihilation? Would there be a process of annihilation? What could we expect to experience, if anything, during such an occurrence?

3 - Could you speculate how such an event would be studied and documented, perhaps for the benefit of another civilization on another planet?

4 - Wormholes - do we know if or how information can pass through them? Are there hypotheses? Perhaps wave signals?

I may have more questions, and thanks in advance. I know all this is theoretical, but I'd like to stay within bounds as much as I can. You know how it is - CBS Sports once got in trouble for using a sound effects track during a golf tournament because someone watching it on TV noticed the bird chirps were from birds that are not native to the area where the tournament was... and called in to complain.

If it gets published, someone will pick it apart.

Two things to remember about this subject:

(1) Wormholes are highly unstable. Within nanoseconds they would disappear. So If you are writing a sci-fi novel, make sure you have some device that would stabilize the wormhole. In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, I believe they had a stable wormhole due to the presence of some advanced species living within the wormhole itself.

(2) You might want to use the Einstein-Rosen bridge, which was worked out in the 1930's. The wormhole is really a bridge  between a Black Hole and a White Hole. It was taking into consideration how electrons might follow a magnetic field. The problem was that it would permit information to travel faster than light. One possible remedy, devised by Wheeler in the 1960, is to use imaginary time. Technically, it's going from Lorentzian time to Euclidean time. This would permit object to move faster than light that would not violate Relativity.

Re: Possibly Stupid Questions About Cosmology
« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2013, 11:05:21 AM »
Quote from: "Sleeper"
1 - Could a "planet" of anti-matter exist? If not, could anti-matter destroy a planet in some way? If not, I've got to rethink my disaster.

2 - If so, let's say it collided with earth. Would there be instant mutual annihilation? Would there be a process of annihilation? What could we expect to experience, if anything, during such an occurrence?

3 - Could you speculate how such an event would be studied and documented, perhaps for the benefit of another civilization on another planet?

4 - Wormholes - do we know if or how information can pass through them? Are there hypotheses? Perhaps wave signals?

1.  a) Theoretically, yes.   It's unlikely though.  b) Anti-matter (given enough of it) could reduce a planet to gamma radiation and subatomic particles.  If your anti-matter supplies are limited, I suggest some kind of strategic delivery system, like a bomb.

2.  A planet colliding with the Earth?  Extremely unlikely.  It would have to be extra-solar, and anything that size might possibly be more worrying because of its gravitational influence (anti-matter still reacts to gravity the same way ordinary matter does).  A small chunk of anti matter would annihilate the instant it came into contact with normal matter, so if you were to drop it from space, it wouldn't get past the atmosphere (hence the delivery mechanism I suggested earlier),  It would look quite pretty from the ground though.  If an anti-matter bomb went off in your immediate vicinity, you could pretty much expect to experience much the same as a high yield nuclear device.  You'd experience a blinding white flash, and the curious sensation of all the individual atoms that make up your body being reduced to subatomic particles.  I reckon it would be quite painless.

3.  If you were to study an event like that, I suggest you do it from very far away.  If such an event annihilated an earth like planet orbiting Tau Ceti, we'd see a very bright gamma ray flash that would (temporarily) outshine the star.  There wouldn't be much we could do about it, because of the distance.  We'd find out 12 years later.   In the anti-matter bombardment scenario, we'd see little flashes every time they dropped one.  12 years later, there might still be Tau Cetians for us to ask what happened.  

4.  Depends on your wormhole.  Technically, there's nothing to stop an electromagnetic wave from going through.  Well, except for the singularity you'll need to warp space that much.  Oh!  And it will have to get past whatever exotic matter you're using to hold the ends open with.  You're not going to have the wormhole open at the time of the explosion are you?  I  wouldn't want to be sat at either end of that!
Winner of WitchSabrinas Best Advice Award 2012


We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real
tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light. -Plato

Re: Possibly Stupid Questions About Cosmology
« Reply #13 on: June 25, 2013, 04:00:01 PM »
I think it would be great to discover an anti-matter planet.  We probably wouldn't find it anywhere in the local group, but there may be some near in the great voids.  Anywhere else and there is too much tiny particulate matter for it to exist in the local group.

However, there may be - separated by voids - whole groups full of galaxies composed of anti-matter objects.  Whole anti-matter solar systems with anti-matter planets.

The thing to find out is how matter and anti-matter react gravitationally to each other.  There is actually some dissent on that topic, although the consensus is leaning towards them reacting normally to normal matter when they are close enough to have a gravitational interaction but not so close that they have a more spectacular interaction.
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