Networking

Geek Trivia: Strength in (phone) numbers

What potentially real 555 telephone number does Hollywood continue to use in movies and television shows -- even though it's no longer on the list of reserved fake phone numbers?

The quibble of the week

"Jay, you said, 'Part of that has to do with human beings having no way of storing antimatter, though presumably one could create ionized anti-helium atoms and store them in a magnetic bottle.' Actually, we do have, and have had, a way to store antimatter. A 'magnetic storage bottle-type' device, also called a 'high vacuum magnetron trap', and typically referred to as a 'Penning Trap,' has been around since the year I was born, 1959. More to the point, those same guys at CERN have been using a 'Penning-Malmberg' trap since roughly late 2002 to actually store tens of thousands of antimatter atoms. Unfortunately, even at peak production, CERN would require, 'two billion years to produce 1 gram of antihydrogen'[link]. The biggest problem with using magnetic storage containers is that the particles stored inside need to have a charge or they can't be confined."

Yeah, this was one of my grosser misstatements, as I was trying to convey the notion that most individual antimatter particles can't be practically stored; it requires the creation of full antimatter atoms, which can then be given a magnetic charge, and thus stored in a magnetic bottle, as is done with a Penning Trap. Storing, say, an anti-neutron all by itself is beyond our technology right now, so far as I understand it, but I did not communicate that clearly.

Thanks for the particle physics comeuppance, and keep those quibbles coming!

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About

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger -- amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

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