Archive for the ‘Z is for Zero-Point Energy’ Category

Quantum Energy

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Physicist Hal Puthoff tells SPTNK “Empty space is not empty at all”.

Listen here: Hal Puthoff – Quantum Energy

Crystal Quantum Computing?

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Photo via flickr by colbalt123

Physicists at UC Santa Barbara have made an important advance in electrically controlling quantum states of electrons, a step that could help in the development of quantum computing.

The researchers have demonstrated the ability to electrically manipulate, at gigahertz rates, the quantum states of electrons trapped on individual defects in diamond crystals. This could aid in the development of quantum computers that could use electron spins to perform computations at unprecedented speed.

Using electromagnetic waveguides on diamond-based chips, the researchers were able to generate magnetic fields large enough to change the quantum state of an atomic-scale defect in less than one billionth of a second. The microwave techniques used in the experiment are analogous to those that underlie magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology.

The key achievement in the current work is that it gives a new perspective on how such resonant manipulation can be performed. “We set out to see if there is a practical limit to how fast we can manipulate these quantum states in diamond,” said lead author Greg Fuchs, a postdoctoral researcher at UCSB. “Eventually, we reached the point where the standard assumptions of magnetic resonance no longer hold, but to our surprise we found that we actually gained an increase in operation speed by breaking the conventional assumptions.”

While these results are unlikely to change MRI technology, they do offer hope for the nascent field of quantum computing. In this field, individual quantum states take on the role that transistors perform in classical computing.

“From an information technology standpoint, there is still a lot to learn about controlling quantum systems,” said David Awschalom, principal investigator and professor of physics, electrical and computer engineering at UCSB. “Still, it’s exciting to stand back and realize that we can already electrically control the quantum state of just a few atoms at gigahertz rates — speeds comparable to what you might find in your computer at home.”

The work was performed at UCSB’s Center for Spintronics and Quantum Computation, directed by Awschalom.

Via ScienceDaily and University of California – Santa Barbara

In a conversation with Sputnik Observatory, Bernard Haisch, astrophysicist, chronicles the quest to crack the laws of the quantum world; to reveal its mysteries and energies at the microscopic level.

Now what road would we have gone down, if in 1913 Niels Bohr had not just formulated the first of his quantum laws, or what I suppose you would call a quantum fiat, a dictum, a rule that he pulled out of the air, very successfully pulled entirely out of the air. And the question is, what would have happened to physics had he not done that? Would we have developed the idea of a sea of energy, zero point energy filling the universe, and investigating the consequences of that, and perhaps discovering that some of the quantum mysteries of the time could have been resolved using that approach, rather than the development of a whole new physics? That, of course, is a question no one can answer because that’s the road we didn’t go down. And who knows what kind of discoveries we would have made on a road we didn’t go down 75 years ago? But within the last thirty years that road has been taken up again by a few explorers. And one of the earliest explorers was a physicist, a British physicist named Trevor Marshall, who in 1963, I would say perhaps did not single-handedly resurrect, but certainly was one of the key figures in resurrecting this old way of thinking of space as being filled with a sea of zero point energy, and applying the ordinary laws of classical Newtonian physics to whatever circumstances we want it to represent to model, but adding to classical physics the idea of an underlying sea of zero point energy. He developed this approach and it was taken up a few years later by a very clever scientist, at the City University of New York, named Timothy Boyer, who took it much further. And together, over the next ten years, I don’t think they worked together, but together in public, publication of papers side by side, this approach was taken. This was, to some extent, the road that had been abandoned fifty years ago. And their objective was to try to develop the understanding of quantum laws using this semi-classical representation. And so you ask yourself, we have all sorts of quantum mysteries that have been explored and discovered since the 1920s, that presumably required the existence of a set of laws that are purely quantum, they’re not intuitive. It’s been said that if you think you understand quantum mechanics, that’s proof by definition that you don’t, because the laws are not intuitive, they don’t seem to make sense, they seem to contradict our everyday experience, and yet it’s been a highly successful way to develop our understanding of the microscopic world.

Tapping Casimir Effect for Levitating Devices

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Photo via flickr by tanakawho

Harnessing the Casimir effect (which takes place between the two metal plates) could help researchers build tiny machines, such as microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), that today are hindered by surface interaction.

Named for a Dutch physicist, the Casimir effect governs interactions of matter with the energy that is present in a vacuum. Success in harnessing this force could someday help researchers develop low-friction ballistics and even levitating objects that defy gravity. For now, the U.S. Defense Department’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has launched a two-year, $10-million project encouraging scientists to work on ways to manipulate this quirk of quantum electrodynamics.

Hendrik Casimir believed that vacuum pockets of nothing do contain fluctuations of electromagnetic waves. In the 1940s with fellow Dutch physicist Dirk Polder, he suggested that two metal plates held apart in a vacuum could trap the waves, creating vacuum energy that, depending on the situation, could attract or repel the plates. As the boundaries of a region of vacuum move, the variation in vacuum energy (also called zero point energy) leads to the Casimir effect. Recent research done at Harvard University, Vrije University Amsterdam, and elsewhere has proved Casimir correct—and given some experimental underpinning to DARPA’s request for research proposals.

Investigators from five institutions—Harvard, Yale University, the University of California, Riverside, and two national labs, Argonne and Los Alamos—received funding. DARPA will assess the groups’ progress in early 2011 to see if any practical applications might emerge from the research.

Program documents on the DARPA Web site state the goal of the Casimir Effect Enhancement program “is to develop new methods to control and manipulate attractive and repulsive forces at surfaces based on engineering of the Casimir force. One could leverage this ability to control phenomena such as adhesion in nanodevices, drag on vehicles, and many other interactions of interest to the [Defense Department].”

Nanoscale design is the most likely place to start and is also the arena where levitation could emerge. Materials scientists working to build tiny machines called microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) struggle with surface interactions, called van der Waals forces, that can make nanomaterials sticky to the point of permanent adhesion, a phenomenon known as “stiction.” To defeat stiction, many MEMS devices are coated with Teflon or similar low-friction substances or are studded with tiny springs that keep the surfaces apart. Materials that did not require such fixes could make nanotechnology more reliable.

Under certain conditions, manipulating the Casimir effect could create repellant forces between nanoscale surfaces. Hong Tang and his colleagues at Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science sold DARPA on their proposal to assess Casimir forces between miniscule silicon crystals, like those that make up computer chips. “Then we’re going to engineer the structure of the surface of the silicon device to get some unusual Casimir forces to produce repulsion,” he says. In theory, he adds, that could mean building a device capable of levitation.

via ScientificAmerican

Z is for Zero Point Energy

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

As the world awaits the end of fossil fuels and the beginning of clean, non-polluting technologies that will serve to rejuvenate our economies, our planet and our well-being, the call is to remove all doubtful blindfolds and consider that there may be a free, limitless supply of energy everywhere in the universe that can be tapped and used to power every invention mankind has ever imagined and yet to dream. If proven true, and we succeed as Nikola Tesla predicted, in attaching our machinery to the very wheelwork of nature, our society awaits the most intense period of evolution in the history of civilization. The crux of the matter lies with quantum physics. Physicists used to think space was empty. The vacuum was a void. But what the bizarre microscopic world of quantum theory tells us is that the universe is a sea of quantum energy or zero point energy. It’s called zero point energy because even if you froze the entire universe down to absolute zero, froze out all motion, energy is still there. The well-established notion of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle is supportive, stating that no object ever rests inside the quantum world because it’s where subatomic particles appear and disappear, and when they do this mischevious “jiggle,” they leave a small amount of zero point energy behind. And while the ability to measure the Casimir force established evidence of ZPE, and subsequently, indicated that faster-than-light travel is possible, inertia, the sensation of being pushed back into your seat when an airplane takes off, may be the clincher. Astrophysicist Bernard Haisch and physicist Alfonso Rueda suggests that this physical force is merely due to the zero point field, and if true, than Newton was wrong. Gravity is just an interaction between matter and the zero point field and antigravity is possible. And while internet entrepreneur Joe Firmage continues to advocate the future potential of ZPE, and theoretical physicist Hal Puthoff diligently conducts experiments, let’s you and I hope there is something called nothing and that the best things in life are limitless and free. Over and out, zeropoint.