Amat Farm

Amat Farm - closeup
Image from Alex Mulvey
An antimatter farm accelerator array near the star Ran

Amat farms (antimatter farms) consist of large banks of solar energy collectors which power multicolliders optimally designed to produce antiparticles. The vast showers of collision products which result are sorted magnetically; antimatter particles and other useful species are collected, cooled, and held in electric/magnetic traps.

Amat arrays designed to produce anti-protons are typically 100km or more in diameter; arrays which produce positrons are considerably smaller. The antiprotons and positrons are usually combined into anti-hydrogen and frozen for easier storage and transport. Since before the Technocalypse, the preferred method of antimatter transport has been a combination of magnetic launcher and particle beam boosted magsail.

Amat Farm
Image from Steve Bowers
This amat farm consists of large fields of solar energy collectors near a star, powering a multicollider which produces extremely energetic collisions. Several such fields are included in an amat farm, some producing antiprotons, some producing positrons

The first amat farms were established in 332AT orbiting Sol just outside the orbit of Mercury, known collectively as the Circumsol Ring. Several power corporations were involved in this effort, including the Look Outwards Combine, Jerusalem Macrotech and General Power Unlimited. In 524AT the Jerusalem Macrotech station B4 was destroyed during an unsuccessful raid by Space Cowboys. Government oversight and regulation of antimatter production and transport was established before the first farm was ever built, although the details of exactly which government(s) was doing the regulating changed over time. A loose coalition of the major powers of the day oversaw the first farms, but was eventually supplanted by the Council of Earth. The CoE eventually found itself at odds with the Martian Union, which first established its own farms and then used their output (or the threat of withholding it) to exercise influence and leverage among the various minor corporate entities and lesser nation-states of the Solar System.

The loss of the amat farms during the Technocalypse crippled antimatter production throughout the centuries of the Dark Age and contributed greatly to the general privation and misery of that period. While GAIA eventually built Her own amat production systems as part of the creation of the Stargate launch facility, She did not share their output beyond using it to supply various interstellar colony missions. This made the production of new units by the newly minted Federation, a hallmark achievement that transformed the lives of millions.

The First Federation was committed to the development of rapid travel across Terragen civilization at both the interplanetary and interstellar level and saw the widespread use of antimatter propulsion and technology as key to this goal. Transapient-developed designs for highly efficient, but easily understood and constructed, antimatter production systems were transmitted throughout colonized space, often as part of the initial announcement of the founding of the Federation.

While a few systems rejected the designs (and the Federation more generally) out of hand, most accepted them (and some of the early rejectors eventually changed their minds or went on to develop their own mass production systems, often heavily influenced by Federation designs). In relatively short order, large-scale amat farms - capable of supporting extensive interplanetary transportation networks and semi-regular interstellar voyages - became a standard feature in nearly all Terragen inhabited star systems, whether Federation members or not. Even the early Deeper Covenant found Federation produced amat useful as a light and compact energy source for their interstellar cyclers and payment in amat by local governments for beamrider services or Deeper products became a common clause in most trade contracts. For a time, the Federation Age gained the nickname, the Age of Antimatter.

Amat farm multicollider
Image from Steve Bowers
A multicollider producing antiprotons- two counterotating streams of protons collide at several points around the ring, at energies which favour the production of antiprotons

With the development and eventual wide deployment of modosophont accessible conversion technology, antimatter production dropped precipitously and eventually all but vanished from the Civilized Galaxy. While there are various industrial and imaging operations making use of amat even up to the Current Era, their requirements are only a fraction of what once was. A number of hu-supremicist, anti-transapient, or determinedly (some would say obsessively) independent cultures still insist on using 'traditional' antimatter propulsion and many systems host the odd group of hobbyists building small amat factories and flying amat powered craft for recreational purposes. But for the vast majority of Terragen civilization, the monopole has supplanted the anti-proton as the particle of choice for power and propulsion both.

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Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev, modified by Steve Bowers
Updated 11 June 2021 by Todd Drashner
Initially published on 10 September 2001.

Antimatter induced fusion and thermonuclear explosions - Andre Gsponer and Jean-Pierre Hurni.