Video: “Zero Point Energy & Vacuum Energy” (Isaac Arthur)

Here is a video published earlier this month on the YouTube channel of Isaac Arthur who is the president of the National Space Society. His channel focuses on topics connected with scientific ideas connected with space exploration.

This video is titled “Zero Point Energy & Vacuum Energy” and he looks at the possible ways that zero-point/vacuum energies might be exploited to enable practical application. He spends quite a lot of time looking at how the Casimir Effect might be a key to tapping into ZPE, which something that has been discussed by Andrea Rossi, Garret Moddel and others.

Arthur states in the video:

Let’s get to tapping that energy, and we’ll begin with the Casimir Effect. Which we should start by saying is an effect we’ve done in the lab plenty of times, as I know a lot of this stuff sounds very sci-fi and can make you wonder how glued in it is to real experimental data and results. In the Casimir effect, we notice that two very flat plates, kept within a very short distance of each other but not quite touching, will have a force or pressure pushing them together. This will happen even in a vacuum chamber.

This certainly seemed mysterious but in the virtual particle context, we need only remember that these particles have a wavelength based on their energy, the more energy a particle has in it, the lower its wavelength and higher its frequency. A particle with a very long wavelength cannot form between two plates that are closer to each other than that wavelength. It’s too big to cram into that spot, while ironically smaller but more energy dense ones can.

If you start with those two big plates very far apart – though no further apart than they themselves are wide – you will notice a little force pushing them together, but only a little. And that’s because those very wide wavelength particles are still forming outside of it and bumping into the backside of either plate occasionally to give a small shove, but there’s no shove of that wavelength or higher from inside, no perfect balance, and thus a net push inward.

As they get closer, more and more wavelengths are getting excluded from forming between them until eventually almost none can. The pressure outside is normal for a vacuum, but somehow the pressure inside is less than zero, and now we know this is from that false vacuum, the space outside isn’t really empty, and the space inside those plates is just emptier. This is measurable in a lab, the Casimir Effect, and is one of the ways zero point energy and vacuum energy first got identified.