Just What is Zero Point Energy?
Introduction to Zero Point Energy concepts
Can we Actually Use Zero Point Energy?
What if we could tap energy straight out of the void or from seemingly empty space. The cosmos is awash in energy. In fact, the total energy that the earth alone receives from the sun, is but a smidgen of the total solar output. Out of this, the sum of life uses but a smidgen of that portion that the earth gets from the sun. Over the eons, the earth has stored a lot of this energy either in coal, methane or oil. The earth itself contains vast reserves of energy in the form of gravitational gradients to fissionable metals. And then there is the rest of the cosmos! Just because we can't see or sense something doe not mean that it is absent. What was yesterdays miracle is today, science fact. Our space probes tell us that the whole cosmos is awash in energy, almost all of it, completely out of our reach; or is it?
Energy consciousness is high on many peoples minds. There is concern over oil availability, the cost and of course, the carbon footprint that is behind global warming. As a result, some of us have been on the quest for the holy grail of energy that is non polluting, low cost and readily available. Plenty of hucksters and scam artists jumped on board to cash in on everyone's quest and raked in handsome profits at everyone else's expense. They've sold us on everything from pills to turn water into gasoline, to gas misers that give extended mileage. We have been sold on hybrids and electric cars that never seem to just quite make it into the market. Then there is this engine and that engine re-design that is supposed to increase energy efficiency.
In all of this madness comes the so called arcane sources of energy that we can use to power our transportation to offices to malls and homes. Transitional energy sources consists of wind power, geothermal power, solar power, piezoelectric and others. Arcane sources are those often thought as fringe by many. Among these is the so called zero-point energy source. Zero-point energy is described in the scientific literature as the ground state of the quantum state in quantum electrodynamics. Though the term ground state is used, it can be deceptive into making one think that there is no energy at this level. A ground state simply means a condition of balance in the quantum harmonic oscillator. It is the expected value of the Hamiltonian of the system. As space, called fields in the quantum, is quantized where neighboring fields can interact. Energy exchanges can occur in quantized fashion from field to field. The energy exchange is given as;
E = hw/2
Where E is the energy of the system
h is the Planck constant
w is substituted in this case for omega
Explorations in the development of zero-point energy use
The result of calculating this energy is that infinite energy exchange is possible between fields. Many scientist balk at the idea that infinities emerge from equations such as this and look for problems either in their theories or the math. Yet we know that energies at this level can be quite remarkable and fantastic, given our knowledge now of atomic and sub atomic science. We know that in order to probe deeper and deeper into the sub-atomic, we have to use greater and greater amounts of energy. For example, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland fires lead nuclei at relativistic velocities in opposite directions to collide them and study the quark and gluon mix that comes out of this. The LHC is the worlds largest machine and it takes a huge amount of energy to run the experiment just described. The result of the collision is hopefully a deeper understanding of the quantum cosmos, sub-atomic particle types and conditions mere seconds after the Big Bang. The temperatures generated are in the hundreds of trillions of degrees Kelvins. We know that the reverse is also true at the point of the big bang. This is also called the vacuum energy. Within quantum perturbation theory, it is sometimes stated that the idea contribution of Feynman diagrams in one-loop and multi-loops to elementary particle propagators are descriptive of the contribution of vacuum fluctuations or the zero-point energy to the particle masses. From this understanding comes a host of ideas, the historical first of which is the Casimir effect postulated by Dutch physicist Hendrik B. G. Casimir, who suggested that the vacuum energy could be used to move masses. This was first experimentally done in 1947 where two extremely small plates were moved together with the Casimir effect via the quantum electromagnetic field.
This result is explained by physicists and cosmologists in this manner. When the plates are far apart, many electromagnetic wavelengths of energy coming out of the quantum vacuum can propagate between them. As the plates are moved closer together, the longer electromagnetic wavelengths are excluded. At a certain point, very little can manifest between the plates and electromagnetic wavelengths manifesting on the sides away from the sides facing each other, push the plates together. If you think electromagnetic inducement of motion is impossible, then you will have to explain the principle of the Stirling engine, which works in a variation of this experiment by using only solar energy or the heat of your hand to induce mechanical motion. Well, this observed Casimir effect has had a lot of impact on how dust clumps in space and how gravity finally emerges on a planetary scale. Further experiments used corrugated plates that were placed close to one another and these were moved laterally instead of toward one another as a result of the Casimir effect alone. This served as further proof of the zero-point energy. Not only that, science was beginning to find ways to make the energy work to move things like nanotechnology.
In future, experiments with nano-turbines may be developed to power micro machines for a host of purposes. Nano-turbines will eventually exploit the Casimir effect to run the machine for the lifespan of the turbine. So far as is known, no one has yet done this, however, nanotechnology is now a fact and it is only a matter of time before zero-point energy is successfully captured to drive such a machine. In combination, nano-machines can power much larger ones. This may be effected by arranging them in a similar manner as to how muscle fibres work together in a larger muscle mass as a unit to accomplish tasks that a single muscle fibre cannot.