(word processor parameters LM=8, RM=75, TM=2, BM=2)
Taken from KeelyNet BBS (214) 324-3501
Sponsored by Vangard Sciences
PO BOX 1031
Mesquite, TX 75150
There are ABSOLUTELY NO RESTRICTIONS
on duplicating, publishing or distributing the
files on KeelyNet!
September 2, 1991
ZPE4.ASC
--------------------------------------------------------------------
This paper shared with KeelyNet courtesy of Dr. Harold Puthoff.
Originally published in New Scientist, July 28, 1990
Sent to KeelyNet in August of 1990.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Everything for Nothing
by Harold Puthoff
Classical physics tells us that if we think of an atom as a
miniature solar system with electronic planets orbiting a nuclear
sun, then it should not exist. The circling electrons SHOULD
RADIATE AWAY their energy like microscopic radio antennas and spiral
into the nucleus. To resolve this problem, physicists had to
introduce a set of mathematical rules, called quantum mechanics, to
describe what happens. Quantum theory endows matter and energy
with both wave and particle-like characteristics. It also restrains
electrons to particular orbits, or energy levels, so they cannot
radiate energy unless they jump from one orbit to another.
Measuring the spectral lines of atoms verifies that quantum theory
is correct. Atoms appear to emit or absorb packets of light, or
photons, with a wavelength that exactly coincides with the
difference between its energy levels as predicted by quantum theory.
As a result, the majority of physicists are content simply to use
quantum rules that describe so accurately what happens in their
experiments.
Nevertheless, when we repeat the question: "But why doesn't the
electron radiate away its energy?", the answer is: "Well, in quantum
theory it JUST DOESN'T". It is at this point that not only the
layman but also some physicists begin to feel that someone is not
playing fair. Indeed, much of modern physics is based on theories
couched in a form that works but they do not answer the fundamental
questions of what gravity is, why the Universe is the way it is, or
how it got started anyway. Surprisingly, there may be answers to
these seemingly unanswerable questions. Perhaps even more
surprising, the answers seem to be emerging from empty space, the
vacuum, the void.
In fact, according to quantum theory, the vacuum, the space between
particles of matter as well as between the stars, is not empty, it
is filled with vast amounts of fluctuating energy.
Page 1
To understand this extraordinary idea, we will have to take a detour
into the phenomenon of "fluctuations" with which quantum theory
abounds. Fluctuations arise as one of the most fundamental concepts
to come out of the mathematics of quantum theory. This is the
uncertainty principle enunciated by Werner Heisenberg in 1927, which
says that it is impossible to know everything about a system because
of what would seem to be inherent fluctuations in the very fabric of
nature itself. Indeed, quantum mechanics is a statistical theory
that deals with probabilities and it has some profound consequences
for our understanding of reality. For instance, we cannot know the
position and the momentum of an electron at the same time. If we
know its momentum, or energy, accurately, then we can determine its
position only probabilistically.
This "fuzziness" of positions described in terms of probability
waves gives a measure of the size and shape over which an electronic
orbit fluctuates in an atom. It also means that the energy of a
particle or system is "fuzzy" and thus there is a slight probability
of it changing, or fluctuating, to another value. In fact, a system
can actually, by fluctuation, "tunnel" through an energy barrier
because there is a small but finite probability of the system
existing on the other side of the barrier. I shall discuss later a
possible cause for such fluctuation phenomena.
The adjective zero-point denotes that such motion exists even at a
temperature of absolute zero where no thermal agitation effects
remain. Although we cannot observe the zero-point energy on, say,
the pendulum of a grandfather clock because it is so minute, it is
nonetheless real. In many physical systems this has important
consequences. One example is the presence of a certain amount of
"noise" in a microwave receiver that can NEVER be removed, no matter
how perfect the technology.
This zero-point energy is the result of the unpredicatable random
fluctuations of the vacuum energy, as predicted by the uncertainty
principle, which is zero in classical theory. In fact, these
fluctuations can be intense enough TO CAUSE PARTICLES TO FORM from
the vacuum SPONTANEOUSLY, provided they disappear again before
violating the uncertainty principle. This temporary formation of
"virtual" particles is somewhat akin to the spray that forms near a
turbulent waterfall. (also termed "quantum foam"....Vangard)
Of all the zero-point fluctuation phenomena, the zero-point
fluctuations of electromagnetic energy are the most easy to detect.
Electromagnetic waves have standing, or travelling modes, that are a
bit like the various modes of waves going along a rope that is
shaken. Each set of waves has its own characteristic set of nodes
and crests. It turns out that even though the zero-point energy in
any particular mode of an electromagnetic field is minute
(equivalent to half a photon's worth), there are nearly an infinite
number of possible modes of propagation, that is frequencies and
directions. The zero-point energy ADDED UP OVER ALL POSSIBLE MODES,
therefore, is QUITE ENORMOUS. As hard as it is to believe, it is
greater than the energy density in the atomic nucleus. And this in
all of the so-called "empty" space around us.
Because the zero-point energy of the electromagnetic fields is so
large, you might expect to see its effects easily, but this is not
the case because its density is very uniform. Just as a vase
Page 2
standing in a true void is not likely to fall over spontaneously,
so a vase bombarded UNIFORMLY on all sides by packets of zero-point
energy would not do likewise because of the BALANCED CONDITIONS of
the uniform bombardment. The only evidence of such a barrage of
energy might be minute jiggling of the vase. Such a mechanism is
thought to be involved in the quantum JIGGLE of zero-point motions.
There are situations, however, where the uniformity of the
electromagnetic zero-point energy is slightly disturbed and this
leads to effects you can ACTUALLY MEASURE. One situation is when
the zero-point energy perturbs slightly the spectra of lines from
transitions between quantum levels in atoms. This perturbation is
known as the LAMB SHIFT, named after the American physicist, Willis
Lamb. This work carried out in the late 1940's, using techniques
developed for wartime radar, showed that the effect of zero-point
fluctuations of the electromagnetic field was to jiggle the
electrons slightly in their atomic orbits, leading to a shift in
frequency of transitions of about 1000 MEGAHERTZ.
Another, also named after its discoverer, is the CASIMIR EFFECT -
which predicts that two metal plates close together ATTRACT EACH
OTHER. Consider plates set at a certain distance apart. In the
space between the plates, only those vacuum fluctuations for which a
whole number of half-waves just spans the distance can exist, just
like waves formed by shaking a rope tied at both ends. Outside the
plates, the fluctuations can have many more values because there is
more space. The number of modes outside the plates, all of which
carry energy and momentum, is greater than those inside. This
imbalance PUSHES THE PLATES TOGETHER. (the metal plates would thus
serve as a ZPE refractor, see NEUTRAL1 on KeelyNet....Vangard)
___ ___
| | | |
| | | |
\\ | | | | //
\\ | | | | //
ZPE ___________\\| | | |//__________ ZPE
Push -----------//| | | |\\---------- Push
// | | | | \\
// | | | | \\
| | | |
| | | |
|_| |_|
Metal Plates
The Casimir Effect : An imbalance in the quantum fluctuations of
empty space can PUSH two metal plates
together
What does this have to do with our basic question of why the
electron in a simple hydrogen atom does not radiate as it circles
the protons in its lowest-energy orbit? I have considered this
point by taking into account what other physicists have learned over
the years about the effects of zero-point energy. I discovered that
you can consider the electron as continually radiating away its
energy as predicted by classical theory, but SIMULTANEOUSLY
ABSORBING a COMPENSATING AMOUNT of energy from the ever-present sea
of zero-point energy in which the atom is immersed. An equilibrium
between these two processes leads to the correct values for the
Page 3
parameters that define the lowest energy, or ground-state orbit (see
"Why atoms don't collapse," NEW SCIENTIST, July 1987). Thus there
is a DYNAMIC EQUILIBRIUM in which the zero-point energy stabilises
the electron in a set ground-state orbit. It seems that the very
stability of matter itself appears to depend on an underlying sea of
electromagnetic zero-point energy.
-------------------------------------------
Gravity as a Long-Range Casimir Force
As well as providing new insights into quantum theory, zero-point
fluctuations also give us some insight into gravity. Einstein's
general theory of relativity describes gravity well but we still do
not know its fundamental nature very well. The theory is basically
descriptive without revealing the underlying dynamics for that
description. As a result, attempts to unify gravity with the other
forces (electromagnetic, strong and weak nuclear forces) or to
develop a quantum theory of gravity have foundered again and again
on difficulties that can be traced back to a lack of understanding
at a fundamental level. To rectify these difficulties, theorists
have resorted to ever-increasing levels of mathematical
sophistication and abstraction, as in the recent development of
supergravity and superstring theories.
The well-known Soviet physicist Andrei Sakharov took a completely
different tack to explain such difficulties. He suggested that
gravity might not be a fundamental interaction at all, but rather a
secondary or RESIDUAL effect associated with other, non-
gravitational fields. Gravity might be an effect brought about by
changes in the zero-point energy of the vacuum, due to the presence
of matter ("A key to understanding gravity", NEW SCIENTIST, April
1981). If correct, you could then consider gravity as a variation
on the Casimir theme, in which the pressures of background zero-
point energy were again responsible. Although Sakharov did not
develop the concept much further, he did outline certain criteria
such a theory would have to meet - for example, predicting the value
of the gravitational constant G in terms of the parameters given by
zero-point energy theory.
I have studied Sakharov's approach to gravity in detail with some
positive results. A particle sitting in the sea of electromagnetic
zero-point fluctuations develops a "jitter" motion, or
ZITTERBEWEGUNG as German physicists have named it. When there are
two or more particles, they are each influenced not only by the
fluctuating background field, but also by the fields generated by
the other particles, all similarly undergoing Zitterbewegung motion.
The coupling between particles due to these fields produces the
attractive gravitational force. Gravity can, therefore, be
understood as a sort of LONG-RANGE Casimir force.
Because of its electromagnetic underpinning, gravitational theory in
this form constitutes what is known as an "already-unified" theory.
The main benefit of the new approach is that it helps us to
understand characteristics of the way gravity works that were
previously unexplained. These include why gravity is so weak; why
positive but not negative mass exists; and the fact that gravity
cannot be shielded because zero-point fluctuations pervade space and
so cannot be shielded.
Page 4
So, if we have an explanation for non-radiating atomic ground states
and for gravity, do we know where the electromagnetic zero-point
energy comes from in the first place? There are two schools of
thought. One is that it is just simply a part of the boundary
conditions of our Universe like, for example, the background
radiation left over from the big bang. The other is that the zero-
point energy is generated by quantum-fluctuation motion of the
charged particles of the latter. I assumed that zero-point fields
drive the motion throughout the Universe, in turn, generate the
zero-point fields in the form of a self-regenerating feedback cycle,
not unlike a cat chasing its own tail.
This self-consistent approach yielded the correct values for the
zero-point field. Thus, the zero-point fields observed at any given
point are due to random radiation arriving from particles throughout
the Unverse that are themselves undergoing zero-point motion ("Where
does the zero-point energy come from?", NEW SCIENTIST, December 2,
1989).
These self-regenerating zero-point fields also produce the familiar
properties of quantum theory, such as fluctuation phenomena and the
uncertainty principle, for example. This means that it might be
possible to model many aspects of quantum theory on the basis of
self-consistent, random interactions between particles and the zero-
point fluctuation fields they generate.
Although a knowledge of zero-point fields emerged from quantum
physics as that subject matured, Timothy Boyer at City College in
New York took a contrary view. In the late 1960's, he began asking
what would happen if we took classical physics as it was and
introduced a background of random, classical fluctuating zero-point
fields. Such fields would presumably have originated in the initial
random processes of the big bang and then by regeneration as I have
just described. Could such an all-classical model reproduce quantum
theory in its entirety, and might this possibility have been
overlooked by the founders of quantum theory who were not aware of
the existence of such a fluctuating background field?
Boyer began by tackling the problems that led to quantum theory
being introduced in the first place, such as the blackbody radiation
curve and the photoelectric effect. His upstart, neoclassical
approach reproduced the known quantum results one by one. This
approach is called STOCHASTIC ELECTRODYNMAICS (SED), in contrast to
QUANTUM ELECTRODYNAMICS (QED). Indeed, Peter Milonni at the Los
Alamos National Labroratory in the US noted in a review of the Boyer
work that if physicists in 1900 had thought of taking this route,
they would probably have been more comfortable with this classical
approach than with Max Planck's hypothesis of the quantum. One can
only speculate as to the direction that physics would have taken
them.
The list of topics successfully analysed using the SED approach,
which produce THE SAME RESULTS as when the QED approach is used, has
now been extended to include the harmonic oscillator, Casimir and
van der Waals forces and the thermal effects of acceleration through
the vacuum.
Out of this work emerged the reasons for such phenomena as the
uncertainty principle, the fluctuating motion of particles, the
Page 5
existence of van der Waals forces even at zero temperature, and so
forth, all show to be due to the influence of the unceasing activity
of the random background fields.
There are also some notable gaps in the development of SED; for
example, deriving Schrodinger's equation, as yet turns out to be an
intractable problem. Several researchers are confident, however,
that this obstacle can be overcome. Until theory as we have come to
know it will be entirely replaced by a refurbished classical theory
in the near future.
But regardless of the final outcome, the successes to date of the
SED approach, by its highlighting of the role of background zero-
point fluctuations, means that when the final chapter is written on
quantum theory, field fluctuations in empty space will be accorded
an honoured position.
And now to the biggest question of all, where did the Universe come
from? Or, in modern terminology, what started the big bang? Could
quantum fluctuations of empty space have something to do with this
as well?
Edward Tyron of the City University of New York thought so in 1973
when he proposed that our Universe may have originated as a
fluctuation of the vacuum on a large scale, as "simply one of those
things which happen from time to time".
This idea was later refined and updated within the context of
inflationary cosmology by Alexander Vilenkin of Tufts University,
who proposed that the universe is created by quantum tunnelling from
literally nothing into the something we call the Universe. Although
highly speculative, these models indicate that physicists find
themselves turning again and again to the void and fluctuations
therein for their answers.
Those with a practical bent of mind may be left with yet one more
unanswered question. Can you find mundane applications for this
emerging Rosetta Stone of physics? Will it be possible to extract
electrical energy from the vacuum? Robert Forward at Hughes
Research Laboratories in Malibu, California has considered this
possibility. Could the engineer of the future specialise in "vacuum
engineering" as the Nobel laureate Tsun-Dao Lee has put it? Could
the energy crises be solved by harnessing the energies of the zero-
point "sea"? After all, the basic form of zero-point energy is
highly random and tends to cancel itself out, so if a way could be
found to bring order out of chaos, then, because of the highly
energetic nature of the vacuum fluctuations, relatively large
effects could be produced.
Given our relative ignorance at this point, we must fall back on a
quote given by the Soviet science historian Roman Poldolny when
contemplating this issue. "It would be just as presumptuous to deny
the feasibility of useful application as it would be irresponsible
to guarantee such application." Only the future can reveal the
ultimate use to which humans will put this remaining fire of the
gods, the quantum fluctuations of empty space.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Page 6
Harold Puthoff is a theoretical physicist at the Institute for
Advanced Studies at Austin in Texas. He specialises in Quantum
Electrodynamics.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Further Reading
"The classical vacuum", SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN
Timothy Boyer, August 1985,
p. 70
"Is the vacuum really empty?", AMERICAN SCIENTIST
Walter Greiner and Joseph Hamilton, March-April 1980,
p. 154
Something Called Nothing - Physical Vacuum, What is it?
Roman Podolny, MIR, 1986
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Vangard note...
We also suggest you download CFG1 and CPEDOG which deal with
Charge Fluctuations, the Casimir effect and Gravity.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
If you have comments or other information relating to such topics
as this paper covers, please upload to KeelyNet or send to the
Vangard Sciences address as listed on the first page.
Thank you for your consideration, interest and support.
Jerry W. Decker.........Ron Barker...........Chuck Henderson
Vangard Sciences/KeelyNet
--------------------------------------------------------------------
If we can be of service, you may contact
Jerry at (214) 324-8741 or Ron at (214) 242-9346
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Page 7