Hey…What’s The Anti-Matter…?
Star Trek relies heavily on the conceit that a huge amount of energy is generated by the ship, and then focused for various uses by dilithium crystals. To get that vast amount of energy, there is a controlled matter-antimatter reaction in the engineering section of the ship, in the Warp Core. Narratively, this makes sense and is filled with science sounding words.
I’m going to use science a bit here. In particle physics, antimatter is a material composed of the antiparticle “partners” to the corresponding particles of ordinary matter. A particle and its antiparticle have the same mass as one another, but is opposite in very important ways. For example, a proton has positive charge while an antiproton has negative charge. A collision between ANY particle and its antiparticle “partner” leads to their MUTUAL ANNIHILATION. Literally removed from the universe, instantly.
The consequence of this annihilation is a release of energy available for either heat or work, in proportion to the total amount of matter and antimatter. You can figure out how much energy you’ll get from this destruction, using the mass–energy equivalence equation, Energy equals mass times the speed of light squared.
You will always get a HUGE number.
More importantly…matter is EVERYWHERE. The universe is MADE of matter. Meaning…that there’s no real safe way to store antimatter, it always wants to explode because it exists in the first place. Star Trek deals with this with a magnetic containment field that separates the antimatter until you want it to react…but you still need the most unstable and destructive substance in the universe to just kind of…be around, so you can do this. Different iterations of the Star Trek franchise handle this in different ways, my favorite is the completely unsafe, weird glass cube.
Let’s be direct here…even Superman is afraid of antimatter. It can destroy him…which is why he exercises great care going to the anti-matter universe (seen in “Crisis” and “Millenium”) because each one of his atoms needs to be exchanged for antimatter during the transfer. If he misses just one…the result is catastrophic and potentially fatal, even to the indestructible Superman. It’s one of the few non-Kryptonite things that CAN harm Superman, and it does so with a ridiculous amount of collateral damage.
Scotty keeps this substance in a weird glass cube. Possibly on some kind of desk.
See how Cap looks upset? That’s because she’s NIGH invulnerable. Nigh means “near,” so the fact is…antimatter commands her respect, even given her Silver Age Alien American Powers. If it does in Superman, it’s a problem for her. As I drew this, it dawned on my why no one in engineering wears protective clothing. It just doesn’t matter. Given all of the incredibly dangerous @#$% on the engineering floor of the Enterprise…if something goes south, they are DONE.
You will note that engineers wear Red Shirts. Clearly no coincidence.
What are they going to DO with that chunk of antimatter? No idea…I didn’t plan another panel. You decide, True Believers!