Skip to comments.Researchers create light from 'almost nothing'
Posted on 06/10/2011 11:17:50 AM PDT by Red Badger
(PhysOrg.com) -- A group of physicists working out of Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, have succeeded in proving what was until now, just theory; and that is, that visible photons could be produced from the virtual particles that have been thought to exist in a quantum vacuum. In a paper published on arXiv, the team describes how they used a specially created circuit called a superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) to modulate a bit of wire length at a roughly five percent of the speed of light, to produce visible "sparks" from the nothingness of a vacuum.
The experiment shows that the Casimir effect is not just theory; named after Dutch physicist Hendrik B. G. Casimir who along with Dirk Polderfirst first proposed back in the late 1940s, the idea of a force that existed in a vacuum; a force that should, if manipulated just right between two plates, or mirrors, result in the creation of photons.
The thinking goes that in any vacuum, virtual particles come into existence and then disappear on a constant ongoing basis; and they do so in waves. The Casimir effect proposes that if two very tiny mirrors were to be placed very close together; close enough that the distance between them would be smaller than the length of some of the virtual waves, a force would be created as the number of particles outside of the space between the mirrors grows higher than the number that exists between them, causing a pull on the mirrors, dragging them closer together. The force that is created, it has been theorized, could then be used to generate photons.
Later researchers proposed that the same effect could be achieved using just one mirror if it were moved back and forth very quickly; and thats the approach the team took in the experiment. The quick movement of the mirror serves to separate pairs of virtual particles which then provide the energy to convert the virtual particles into real photons, which is what happened in the SQUID, allowing the team to see the photons that were produced.
Such research, while theoretically satisfying, doesnt really offer much in the way of practical applications, at least not at this time; but thats not to say that new developments that arise as a result of this research couldnt conceivably lead to something more profound, such as a means of harnessing energy from the vacuum of space to be used to push a vehicle as it travels throughout the universe.
More information: Observation of the Dynamical Casimir Effect in a Superconducting Circuit, arXiv:1105.4714v1 [quant-ph]
One of the most surprising predictions of modern quantum theory is that the vacuum of space is not empty. In fact, quantum theory predicts that it teems with virtual particles flitting in and out of existence. While initially a curiosity, it was quickly realized that these vacuum fluctuations had measurable consequences, for instance producing the Lamb shift of atomic spectra and modifying the magnetic moment for the electron. This type of renormalization due to vacuum fluctuations is now central to our understanding of nature. However, these effects provide indirect evidence for the existence of vacuum fluctuations. From early on, it was discussed if it might instead be possible to more directly observe the virtual particles that compose the quantum vacuum. 40 years ago, Moore suggested that a mirror undergoing relativistic motion could convert virtual photons into directly observable real photons. This effect was later named the dynamical Casimir effect (DCE). Using a superconducting circuit, we have observed the DCE for the first time. The circuit consists of a coplanar transmission line with an electrical length that can be changed at a few percent of the speed of light. The length is changed by modulating the inductance of a superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) at high frequencies (~11 GHz). In addition to observing the creation of real photons, we observe two-mode squeezing of the emitted radiation, which is a signature of the quantum character of the generation process.
a) Optical micrograph of the device. Light parts are Al while dark parts are the Si substrate. The output line is labeled "CPW" and the drive line enters from the top. Both lines converge near the SQUID. b) A scanning-electron micrograph of the SQUID. Image credit: arXiv:1105.4714v1
GOD: Been there. Done that................
“Almost nothing” is still “something”.
They haven’t tried the old “Let there be light!” trick yet.................
All I had was bad lux with my Fiat......................
You didn’t sat the proper incantation:
Fix It Again Tony...
Sell your stocks in Every Ready batteries...
Don’t let God catch you with your hands in his quarkie jar!
If it weren’t for bad lux, they’d have no lux at all....................
right on...(light on?)
Tony would have known enough to replace the lux capacitor.
Another interesting article. Thanks Badge!
Is this the flux capacitor that we have been waiting for?
God to the materialists:
“GET YOUR OWN DIRT.”
Paging Sheldon Cooper. Please pick up the white courtesy phone...
Hmmm ... This sounds like it, but I'm not sure if it is capturing Zero-Point energy.
“They havent tried the old Let there be light! trick yet.................”
Ah yes; and all the non-believers said it could not happen that way - “from ‘nothing’ “.
I have believed for a very long time that there is nothing “supernatural”.
By that I do not mean that what some people call “miracles”, impossible, superstitions and mere “religious nonsense” are ALWAYS just figments of someone’s imagination. I mean that SOMETIMES they are simply, currently, beyond our present understanding.
That makes me neither a “believer” or “non-believer” when it comes to arguments about science and G-d. I leave it to G-d and the fullness of time to resolve all such matters for us.
New International Version (NIV)
The Tower of Babel
1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As people moved eastward,[a] they found a plain in Shinar[b] and settled there.
3 They said to each other, Come, lets make bricks and bake them thoroughly. They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.
5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 6 The LORD said, If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.
8 So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel[c]because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
O.K., no argument.
However, the relevance to the discussion - please???
People always miss this little gem from the Lord:
6 The LORD said, If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.
IOW, man has the ability to create anything, given enough time and effort.
I believe that the Lord has stepped in many times across the centuries to apply the brakes to man’s achievements. I watch the History Channel very very much. The Romans were way far more advanced than has been generally believed. They had machines and other technology that was completely lost when Rome was destroyed, many of which would have to wait another thousand years (the Dark Ages) to be reinvented or rediscovered. Imagine if Rome had gunpowder................
Quite. Yeah, God still has high score on this issue - but c’mon guys, this is FREAKING AMAZING. Extracting mass/energy from a vacuum? !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
“man has the ability to create anything, given enough time and effort”
That much I agree with, with this change: “the ability to POSSIBLY create anything, given enough time”.
We not only do not always have the ability to achieve something, we sometimes fail to achieve what is possible by the abilities we already have.
“but cmon guys, this is FREAKING AMAZING. Extracting mass/energy from a vacuum? !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
I’m with you on that. It is amazing, and it would be great
if we learn in short order how we can apply that knowledge in ways that will have practical implications.
However, keeping in mind that it was almost three decades from Eintein’s work to the first atomic bombs, and how long after that before “nuclear energy” power plants, I do not expect too much from this news right away.
(I’m wondering if this changes what Einstein thought about “zero point” energy”.)
War is unfortunately the agent of “necessity” and financial catalyst that moves something very new from theory to application. Let’s hope some more peaceful endeavor is the catalyst for the practical use of this news.
Maybe the energy-wave expression of “virtual” particles can be exploited for a non-fictional version of what the Star Trek series referred to as “sub-space telecommunication”. [Folks at “Area 51” are you listening?]
sub space telecom - interesting - I was only thinking that they could create light to impinge on a solar cell thereby harnassing the energy for application....yours is more subtle - I like.