Monday, September 05, 2005

The Quantum vacuum - Part II - Looking for results in the wrong places

Quantum electrodynamics predicts that empty
space (the quantum vacuum) contains a large
amount of energy that corresponds to the lowest
energy state (energy > 0) of the electromagnetic
field. Surfaces in the vacuum can experience
forces that arise from the disturbance in the
vacuum energy. The presence of attractive
"Casimir" forces between uncharged, parallel,
metal plates has been accurately verified in the
last several years. Theoretical calculations have
suggested the presence of repulsive vacuum forces
for certain geometrical configurations. . . .

. . . Can we make use of this energy in some way
to facilitate space travel, such as energy
generation, propulsion, or creation of wormholes?
. . .

If we can obtain repulsive as well as attractive
vacuum forces by a suitable choice of geometry,
we are one step closer to being able to design a
variety of novel MEMS devices using vacuum energy
that could assist in attaining some of the NASA
objectives for space travel.

Don't expect NASA to produce anything useful from
this. Look for it coming from a guy like Burt Rutan
or someone as yet unknown.

—Jordan Maclay, Jay Hammer, Michael A. George,
Rob Ilic, Quinn Leonard, Rod Clark,
"Measurement of Repulsive Quantum Vacuum Forces" (PDF)

Via Orlin Grabbe