Anti-matter ants

A xenobiological life form landed on earth. A small pest called anti-matter ant. They are 1g in weight, composed of handwavium matter and can reproduce via fission at a rate given by $2^n$ where n is increased from 0 to infinity, one by one, each time the ant eats his own weight in matter (any matter). It can eat at a rate of 0.001g per second. It poops anti-matter composed of anti-iron atoms. They can convert matter to energy and transmutate it into other elements if needed, but not iron. Iron is turned into anti-matter iron and pooped via their back ends. They are immune to photons. Their back ends have magnetic contention to avoid damage to their internals due matter and anti-matter interacting in their intestines. In the event that there is no matter to eat anymore, they develop intergalatic wings to colonize other planets. When they do this they lose 0.1g of weight. Theres is only one way to kill them : Neutrinos. Unfortunately you need a large flux of neutrinos to kill something. They would die like any normal ant if irradiated with neutrinos. They dont die from old age, assume that as soon as they fission (like bacteria) they produce two new individuals. Assume that a single ant landed on the north pole.

anti-matter ant


How much time it would take for this ant to destroy earth ?
Is there any way to stop them ? (In other words, are they too overpowered ?)

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Why call and label them anti-matter ants if they're not anti-matter ants? $\endgroup$ – AecLetec Mar 28 '15 at 1:43
  • $\begingroup$ Because they poop anti-matter sometimes $\endgroup$ – Jorge Aldo Mar 28 '15 at 1:44
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I think the terminology issue which AecLetec was seeing is that if I throw actual matter at the anti-matter ant, it doesn't vaporize in a poof of gamma rays, which is the traditional definition of anti-matter. It doesn't affect the actual problem, its just a red-hearing which could potentially get in the way of your readers focusing on the real issues you want them to. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon - Reinstate Monica Mar 28 '15 at 15:02

There has already been lots of good discussion on how the magical properties these creatures have been imbued with are physically impossible. However, it turns out that none of that matters because these creatures are killed by neutrinos. You might think that this is a pretty OP weakness, since it's difficult for us to generate large numbers of neutrinos. However, I present to you:

Solar neutrinos.

Even assuming that the ants are only 1 mm in size, they'd be bombarded with around $10^9$ neutrinos per second. That's one billion, with a b, per second.


Alternatively you could... still do nothing. If the creatures are "immune to photons," then they don't interact with the electromagnetic fields of matter. This is because photons are the gauge bosons of the electromagnetic field. This means that not only would they not be able to "eat" any matter, they would also simply pass right through the Earth, as interatomic forces would have no affect on them.

  • $\begingroup$ a step in the direction i want, but this dont kill earth ants. how much is needed to kill common earth ants ? $\endgroup$ – Jorge Aldo Mar 28 '15 at 19:29
  • $\begingroup$ @JorgeAldo I interpreted your line "They would die like any normal ant if irradiated with neutrinos" as meaning that they react to neutrinos the same way normal ants react to normal radiation (they die). (This would require, in addition to their other nonphysical properties, a large neutrino absorption/scattering cross-section.) If you mean that they have a neutrino absorption cross-section similar not different from regular matter, then you would need to place them inside a supernova. $\endgroup$ – 2012rcampion Mar 28 '15 at 22:12
  • $\begingroup$ then they are op $\endgroup$ – Jorge Aldo Mar 28 '15 at 22:34
  • $\begingroup$ i will give up that idea, cant figure out how to make it work $\endgroup$ – Jorge Aldo Mar 28 '15 at 23:11

Anti-matter annihilates on contact with regular matter. It can be seen as time-reversed regular matter, but that's beside the point, which is that the 'ants' will never make it to the ground. I doubt their 'intergalactic' wings will help much, or their 'immunity to photons' (anti-matter emits and absorbs photons much like ordinary matter, and interacts very weakly with neutrinos).

It'll be a nice set of fireworks in the upper troposphere hundreds of km from the ground, or most likely, at the heliosphere at the borders of the solar system.

XKCD on antimatter ants:
enter image description here

EDIT: The OP has edited the post and clarified that the ants are made of ordinary matter, and excrete anti-matter. They would then explode upon generating or excreting the anti-matter pellet, since anti-matter still annihilates on contact with regular matter.

  • $\begingroup$ they are made out of anti-matter but poop anti-matter atoms of iron. $\endgroup$ – Jorge Aldo Mar 28 '15 at 1:22
  • $\begingroup$ That's not helping. $\endgroup$ – Serban Tanasa Mar 28 '15 at 1:24
  • $\begingroup$ Their butts have magnetic contention that does not allow the poop to touch the body of the ant. $\endgroup$ – Jorge Aldo Mar 28 '15 at 1:25
  • $\begingroup$ Still blows up on contact with atoms in the air, and disintegrates the ant via gamma radiation. $\endgroup$ – Serban Tanasa Mar 28 '15 at 1:26
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Not if they're made of regular matter they're not. Nevermind, I noticed you removed science-based. They're made of handwavium now. $\endgroup$ – Serban Tanasa Mar 28 '15 at 1:28

I have some slight quibbles, even if the tag is gone. I hope you don't take them personally.

It poops anti-matter composed of anti-iron atoms.

This violates a few conservation laws. Lumping them together, it boils down to the idea that you cannot take in "normal" matter and output antimatter. Lepton number, baryon number, electric charge (in some cases) and a few other laws are violated.

They are immune to photons.

I don't quite get this. Any type of matter with electric charge can emit or absorb photons; given that these ants are made of antimatter atoms, they will interact with photons in some way, shape or form.1

They are immune to photons.

They are made of objects which have electric charge, so they must interact with photons.

On to the question.

I would suggest using, instead of $2^n$, a logistic function to model population growth. In this case, population ($P$) is a function of time ($t$): $$P=\frac{L}{1-e^{-k(t-t_0)}}$$ where $L$ is the maximum value of the function and $k$ is some constant.

The reason for using this model is that even though these ants have a, um, unique digestive system, there are limiting factors to their population, such as predators and death by other natural causes.

The change in population at a given time is $$\frac{dP}{dt}=kP \left(1-\frac{P}{L} \right)$$ To figure out how the total input of matter is at a given time, we can write $$\frac{dM}{dt}=\frac{dP}{dt} \frac{dM}{dP} = kP \left(1-\frac{P}{L} \right) (0.001 \times P)$$ and then integrate from $0$ to $M_{\text{Earth}}$. The time will be in seconds. $k$ and $L$ must be empirically determined.

1You clarified that these ants are made of "normal" matter, so this isn't relevant.

  • $\begingroup$ I wont change the rate of replication but i forgot to decide if they die from old age or not. Thats a good point... $\endgroup$ – Jorge Aldo Mar 28 '15 at 1:55
  • $\begingroup$ they wont die from old age, they reproduce via fission. Fission reproduction assumes that the two resulting individuals are like two new beings with 0 age. $\endgroup$ – Jorge Aldo Mar 28 '15 at 1:59
  • $\begingroup$ @JorgeAldo That's not how fission works. It's not as if the original set of organs disappears and two new ones reappear. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Mar 28 '15 at 2:04
  • $\begingroup$ i know, but assume this as true $\endgroup$ – Jorge Aldo Mar 28 '15 at 3:18

Answer: Less than one month.

Handwaving all the legitimate concerns mentioned (and what a might handwave it needs!), you simply need to understand exponential growth.

There is a story I read of as a child. A cruel rich man hired a little girl to count his money. When she was done in half a month, the man asked her how much he owed her. The girls thought about it, and then replied:

I want to be paid 2 coins for the first day, then two time two for the next, then...

But before she could finish, the man agreed, thinking it was such a tiny amount. In the end, she got all his wealth and he couldn't even pay her the full amount. That's because 2 to the power of 15 is 32, 768!

Now, your ant's greatest threat would be reaching the outer core - it consists of a great deal of iron. Even if one ant reaches the core (and again handwave its survival), then it could wreck the planet.

Fighting these ants is not realistically possible. Even if you got your neutrino guns, the ants would naturally burrow - and like I've pointed out, it takes only one to destroy the Earth by multiplying in the iron-rich outer core.

TBH, your creature may stretch anyone's suspension of disbelief to its breaking point. Its specifically the anti-matter pooping (How come its rear end doesn't react to the anti-matter?!) and neutrino weakness that causes problems.

How to beat them? Wait to hear the whooshing of a blue Police Box...

  • $\begingroup$ nope this answer is wrong, they poop anti matter and this has consequences $\endgroup$ – Jorge Aldo Mar 28 '15 at 11:39

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