Antimatter Hazard Symbol pops up!

18 04 2012

Antimatter containment pod as rendered in Second Life. Note the triangular Antimatter Hazard Symbol at left. (Image credit: Benjamin Swem; Symbol credit: Ben McGee)

A red-letter day!  The Antimatter Hazard Symbol I proposed nearly two years ago has found its first physical application!

…Well, pseudo-physical, anyway.

While the symbol, (which is based on internationally-accepted color coding in combination with Title 10 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, Part 835, Subpart G posting guidelines,) has found its way into online articles here-and-there, it hadn’t found it’s way onto something more substantial until now.

Second view of the antimatter containment pod as rendered in Second Life. Note the triangular Antimatter Hazard Symbol at left. (Image credit: Benjamin Swem; Symbol credit: Ben McGee)

Benjamin Swem, a Second Life user also known as Krahazik Zaytsev, recently asked my permission to use the symbol.  His application?  In true, classical science-fiction fashion, it was to be affixed to an antimatter containment pod powering a fictitious spacecraft he was in the process of creating to sell in-world.

I’m must say I’m quite pleased with the result.

The symbol, for those who hadn’t seen my original proposal, is a modification of the familiar radiation “trefoil,” replacing the “caution” yellow-and-black coloring with the more threatening “danger” red-and-black.  Each of the radiation “foils” has been bisected to impart the concept of additional energy, the foils themselves have been inverted to further distinguish it from a “ordinary” radiation trefoil, and the center of the symbol is two inverted circles overlapping (instead of one circle) to represent the interaction of matter with antimatter. 

Instantly familiar, intuitive, yet more ominous is what I was after.  (A symbol doesn’t do anyone any good if no one recognizes it, so why not leverage existing symbology as an advantage?)

  • *For the scientifically-inclined, the radiation symbol is also very technically-accurate one.  Considering the actual threats posed by antimatter, a primary danger of proximity to annihilating antimatter (even in storage systems!) is from gamma-rays emitted as particles and anti-particles collide.  For electrons and positrons, this energy is a gamma-ray with peak energy observed at 511 keV, which can penetrate even very thick shielding.  (We actually use the annihilation of naturally-occuring positrons to help calibrate our instruments, so make no mistake, antimatter exists! – Just naturally in small enough quantities that it doesn’t really cause any negative effects.)

Admittedly, it’s a bit early to be terribly concerned with protecting the public from incidental encounters with antimatter – but thinking about it ahead-of-time can’t hurt.

And in fact, with the relatively-recent discovery of natural sources of antimatter, we may develop the ability to amass stores of the material sooner than we imagined.

So, feel free to use the hazard symbol as you wish; All I ask is that you just let me know how you intend to use it and send me a link or image of the result!

Proposed Antimatter Hazard Symbol, modeled after 10 CFR 835 requirements for Radiation labeling and posting. (Credit: Ben McGee)



7 responses

25 04 2012
Proposing an Antimatter Hazard Symbol « Astrowright

[…] UPDATE 04/2012: For more info and subsequent uses of the symbol, click here! […]

12 10 2012
Faran Hamblett

Would you mind if I used the symbol in a story I’m writing in a purely descriptive manner, no imagery whatsoever? I will take note and mention you in the acknowledgments if I do decide to publish.

5 11 2012


Go right ahead (apologies for the delay – I missed this comment!) and I’d be quite interested in learning mroe about your story and/or giving it a read once you’re in a position to share it!

22 11 2012
Faran Hamblett

Thank you, sorry for the late reply I’ve been tied up with school work. But I would gladly send you the first book I’ve wrote which leads up to the events of the one I’m currently writing.

30 04 2013
The Antimatter Plot Thickens… | Astrowright

[…] reported on and, which prominently featured the antimatter symbol I created a couple of years back (i.e., the pleasant surprise – thanks, Keith!), we may be one giant […]

30 09 2014
Brad Ganly

I love this symbol! Out of all the ones I’ve seen online it’s by far the best… Would you mind if I used your symbol to make a decal for my car? I’d like to make 5″ decals of it to put on each side back window… I would just need a PDF of it

6 11 2014

Years ago when you first came up with this, I was building a car and wanted to make antimatter the sort of theme around which the car would be built. So I needed a bit of a logo and found what you had done. I think I discussed it with you briefly. I even made my own but ultimately, I liked yours the best. Fast forward to today and I am starting an online store and I need a logo. I was wondering if you would mind if I used elements of the symbol to create my logo. I wouldn’t use the symbol outright, but I was thinking about something similar, maybe use the center part or something. I haven’t actually come up with any ideas, but I wanted to ask you first. I could send you a pic when it is done, if you are interested. Thanks and I’m glad your symbol is catching on.


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