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Not just gamma rays; a bulk antimatter annihilation would be a messy thing, because of the nuclei. Lots of pions and their decay fragments.

...though I suppose in practice much of what you'd detect from a huge explosion of light mesons in vacuum would be gamma rays. Lots of fairly-high-energy electrons and positrons too, many of them produced by muon decay.

This is the only episode I've listened to recently.

I was delighted to learn of its existence, and its availability; the TV version gets mentioned in a footnote in "The Road to Seetee."* The TV version appears to be known as "Asteroid of Death," and exists on VHS tapes here and there. I'll tweak up the reference the next time I revise the essay.

Dr. Dale and Captain Strong seem awfully chummy compared to the formality prevalent around the Academy, addressing one another as "Joan" and "Steve."

Dale seems pretty convinced getting rid of this asteroid will be as easy as ramming it with a similarly massed object but...

To how high a standard of scientific plausibility should we hold 1950s radio dramas? From everything I've learned, Tom Corbett is near the peak.

That said, I could not understand why The Kid, whose cells are dividing more rapidly than an adult's and who is therefore more vulnerable to radiation, should be unaffected by the symptoms that brought down his dad, given that they were aboard the same spacecraft with the same proximity to the Sparkling Meteor. A handwave about better-shielded staterooms would fix this, but I failed to hear one.



*PDF available on request to members of James's commentariat, or on the back of boxes of Kellog's PEP,the Build-Up Cereal. Act now.

It's an interesting question: just how violently "sparkly" would a huge chunk of antimatter be on a typical day, if it were just minding its own business in the environment prevalent in our solar system? Any kind of micrometeoroid hit ought to be pretty significant.

Actually a very interesting question! Any sparkling is just good old black body radiation the material of the antimeteor. So what you're going to see is going to depend on the stopping power - the higher the stopping power the more energy is absorbed per unit mass, right? Guesstimating, you want something on the order of 6000 K for 'sparks'. So if a micrometeroid does in fact mass one microgram, you'll see mebbe 50 MJ dumped into the material. That's - what? - about ten kilos at 6000 K , depending on the specific heat.

So WAG, not so very sparkly, depending on how close you are. Of course, if you are close enough to see sparkles, you'll be getting a big dose of 50 MJ flying off in the other direction. And that's all gamma and other ionizing stuff . . .

There'd be a constant background of gammas (and fairly energetic positive and negative betas, the ultimate product of pion decay) just from the interplanetary medium and solar wind hitting the thing, I suppose.

Belated thought: I bet once the Solar Guard thinks about it,they will realize the CT is a potential power source and should not be squandered.

If you really wanted to get rid of it, don't hit it with a big chunk of matter. Hit it with a carefully controlled and aimed little stream of matter to turn it into an hybrid AM-Thermal/AM-Beam Core rocket and put it into an escape trajectory.

Although, thinking about it for a second, I wonder what amount of thrust it is generating from interactions with the solar wind?

About three paragraphs down I was thinking "The 'kid' is actually Q, isn't he?". Glad to see it was a different twist. (And that nobody actually got totally or partially disintegrated. AND that the System contains Scientific Minds sharp enough to realize that an anti-asteroid in our system will indeed look different from a regular one. Wonder if they tried to check the sign of its gravitational attraction while they were nearby?)

--Dave, do you fear the experiment? no, but i fear the result!

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