Pernicious Particles: Subatomic Particles as Villains

  • Kristine Larsen
Part of the Science and Fiction book series (SCIFICT)


In the Star Trek universe, the Enterprise’s warp engines are powered by the annihilation of deuterium (heavy hydrogen atoms in which the nucleus consists of a proton and neutron) and antideuterium. So-called dilithium crystals (an invented element, as opposed to two lithium atoms bonded together) control the reaction [1]. However, antimatter is also used as a weapon, for example in the Star Trek: Voyager episode “Dreadnought”. The title refers to a Cardassian self-guided missile made of 100 kg each of matter and antimatter, said to be able to destroy a small moon. Non “Trekkers” may have first come across the term antimatter in Dan Brown’s novel Angels & Demons or Ron Howard’s film adaptation of the same name. In the novel father/daughter scientists the Vetras keep their antimatter experiments at CERN secret, citing safety concerns. Daughter Vittoria explains that while antimatter is an important technology” that she hopes will ultimately provide limitless, pollution-free energy that could “save the planet”, it also has the potential to destroy the planet (in large enough quantities) [2].


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristine Larsen
    • 1
  1. 1.Geological Sciences DepartmentCentral Connecticut State UniversityNew BritainUSA

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