What is Zero point energy: Definition and 44 Discussions

Zero-point energy (ZPE) is the lowest possible energy that a quantum mechanical system may have. Unlike in classical mechanics, quantum systems constantly fluctuate in their lowest energy state as described by the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. As well as atoms and molecules, the empty space of the vacuum has these properties. According to quantum field theory, the universe can be thought of not as isolated particles but continuous fluctuating fields: matter fields, whose quanta are fermions (i.e., leptons and quarks), and force fields, whose quanta are bosons (e.g., photons and gluons). All these fields have zero-point energy. These fluctuating zero-point fields lead to a kind of reintroduction of an aether in physics, since some systems can detect the existence of this energy; however, this aether cannot be thought of as a physical medium if it is to be Lorentz invariant such that there is no contradiction with Einstein's theory of special relativity.Physics currently lacks a full theoretical model for understanding zero-point energy; in particular, the discrepancy between theorized and observed vacuum energy is a source of major contention. Physicists Richard Feynman and John Wheeler calculated the zero-point radiation of the vacuum to be an order of magnitude greater than nuclear energy, with a single light bulb containing enough energy to boil all the world's oceans. Yet according to Einstein's theory of general relativity, any such energy would gravitate and the experimental evidence from both the expansion of the universe, dark energy and the Casimir effect shows any such energy to be exceptionally weak. A popular proposal that attempts to address this issue is to say that the fermion field has a negative zero-point energy, while the boson field has positive zero-point energy and thus these energies somehow cancel each other out. This idea would be true if supersymmetry were an exact symmetry of nature; however, the LHC at CERN has so far found no evidence to support it. Moreover, it is known that if supersymmetry is valid at all, it is at most a broken symmetry, only true at very high energies, and no one has been able to show a theory where zero-point cancellations occur in the low energy universe we observe today. This discrepancy is known as the cosmological constant problem and it is one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in physics. Many physicists believe that "the vacuum holds the key to a full understanding of nature".

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  1. R

    Good literature needed (QFT topics)

    Summary:: Trying to find good books so that I can continue writing my paper about the vacuum Hello fellow physics enthusiasts, I require your support to find good and scientific literature about: Lamb Shift Vacuumpolarisation Zero point energy It can be a long source too, so don't be afraid...
  2. R

    Working on my scientific script on quantum physics (sources for the Casmir effect)

    Summary:: Any good english or german sources for Casimir effect, quantum fluctuations or zero point energy Hello, fellow quantum physicists I am currently writing a detailed physics script for my quantum physics project and I wanted to ask if you know some good internet sources on the theme of...
  3. M

    I Separating particles in a zero point energy field

    From my understanding, quantum fluctuations create particle pairs that are usually annihilated. Is it possible to use some kind of force (eg: electromagnetism) to direct and separate antiparticles from normal particles? I believe experiments have proven that it is possible to store positrons...
  4. S

    A Is there an alternative form of the zero point energy?

    Hi, is there an alternative form of the zero point energy for free electrons, where there is no space interval L to be quantized in? The zero point energy for electrons in an atom can be simplified to a variant where Z^2 is present in the nominator, however, these are not free electrons. Can a...
  5. Petr Matas

    I Can We Cool a Macroscopic Crystal to 1 nK?

    Is it theoretically possible to cool a macroscopic crystal (for example NaCl 1×1×1 cm) to an extremely low temperature, like 1 nK? Will it retain its microscopic structure? Why? Does it have anything to do with zero point energy (I mean something like the lowest energy level of a quantum...
  6. aethergravitics

    Old dog still learning new tricks

    I have an experimental bent. I am currently trying to expose the tachyon field (replace with quantum field, zero point or whatever term is currently your favorite). Also, currently trying to use a longitudinal wavelength in place of a conductor to reach the ionosphere and tap its electrical...
  7. F

    I Relation between quantum fluctuations and vacuum energy?

    As far as I understand it, the non-zero vacuum energy attributed to a quantum field (at each point in space-time) is precisely due to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle (and the fact that the energy of the quantum field at each space-time point is quantised). Accordingly (in order to satisfy...
  8. JG1009

    Zero-point energy and QED vacuum state

    I'm relatively new to QFT and was wondering how the QED vacuum has a dormant zero average-field condition if there is a zero-point energy of the field as well? How is there a zero average and a zero point energy?
  9. W

    Zero Point Energy: Is it Present in Cavity Only?

    hi, i have studied zero point energy as hf/2 , my question- is it present in cavity only? what is the value of f , does this value change with different atom-cavity system? thanks
  10. Spinnor

    How correct is this paragraph about vacuum zero point energy.

    Doing some searching about the zero point energy of the vacuum I came up with an excerpt from Google books, Page 62 of...
  11. J

    Exploring Zero Point Energy: My Quest for the Truth

    Hello I don't know much about physics but I thought I would come here because the topic interests me and I would like more professional opinions on the matter as their seems to be a lot of disinformation out there. People claiming to have created free energy machines and the like, Which make use...
  12. J

    Zero point energy in thermal noise spectrum?

    This is a question about the proper form for thermal noise from a resistor. This is purely academic for me - I always work in the regime where \hbar \omega << k T so the noise spectrum is simply P \approx kT. When this no longer holds, quantum effects matter of course. Then I have seen...
  13. askhetan

    Zero Point Energy and Bose Einstein Condensates

    They say ZPE is the energy of the system at 0 K due to vibrations and even though the Schroedinger equation gives us the ground state minimum energy of the system (lets say by DFT/HF/QMC whatever), this energy is a little higher than that. My first question is, because I have learned that...
  14. wolram

    A Resolution of the Cosmological Constant Problem: Jan M Greben

    arXiv:1209.4734 [pdf, ps, other] A resolution of the cosmological constant problem Jan M. Greben Subjects: General Physics (physics.gen-ph) The standard calculation of vacuum energy or zero point energy is in strong disagreement with observation. We suggest that this discrepancy is caused by...
  15. M

    Zero point energy and IR spectroscopy

    I made some frequency calculations in Gaussian (using various method/basis set combos) and I have to find which method/basis set combo is the most accurate by comparing the results to literature values. I got the calculated wavenumbers along with their intensities but my professor tells me I...
  16. Useful nucleus

    Zero Point Energy: Harmonic Oscillator vs Rigid Rotator

    The harmonic oscillator and the rigid rotator are traditional examples in any quantum mechanics text. The former can represent the vibrations of a diatomic molecule while the latter can represent its rotation. By solving the time-independent Schroedinger equation for the two systems, one...
  17. M

    Zero Point Energy as a weapon?

    I remember reading an old article about ZPE. Physicists claim that the ZPE found within a common light bulb has the potential to boil away the Earth's oceans. This got me to thinking of Star Wars and the super laser of the Death Star. It destroyed a whole planet! I know it was only a sci-fi...
  18. C

    Calculating Zero Point Energy with DVR

    anybody knows DVR(Discrete variable representation) method? how do you use DVR to calculate the zero point energy?
  19. fluidistic

    Quantum mechanics, zero point energy

    Homework Statement Estimate the zero point energy of an electron confined into a region of 10^{-14}m which is around the magnitude of the nucleus. Compare this energy with the potential energy between a proton and an electron and the gravitational potential energy with the same distance...
  20. K

    Zero Point Energy Explained - Simple English

    Can someone basicly explain what is zero point energy using simple english.
  21. Z

    Why do we assume that zero point energy is infinite?

    I have been doing some research and many sources have stated that "zero point energy" exists in all points in space and there is an infinite amount of it. Is this true? please back up what you say. Thanks.
  22. A

    Zero point energy from Heat Capacity vs Temperature Curve

    A table gives the values of heat capacity at constant volume of pure germanium estimate its vibrational zero point energy. The vibrational zero point energy is just the missing 'area' in the plot of Cv vs T. I have plotted heat capacity versus T and calculated the zero point energy. What...
  23. Z

    Quantum Foam vs Zero Point Energy

    If you're familiar with these concepts, can you elaborate on: what quantum foam is, what zero point energy is, the difference between them, and their relationship ? Seems like a loaded question, and it is, but I'm hoping to save a lot of time in research by simply asking knowledgeable folk to...
  24. R

    Is another ame for the zero point energy field, the vacuum?

    Is another ame for the zero point energy field, the vacuum?
  25. G

    Prove zero point energy without calculation?

    What is an elegant way to prove that quantum mechanical system (with bounded particles?) have some non-zero ground state energy?
  26. F

    Zero point energy of hydrogen atom

    Zero point energy and hydrogen atom In quantum mechanics, the lowest energy level of Simple Harmonic Oscilator is not zero and equal to hw/2. It is called the zero point energy. Is the energy level at ground state of hydrogen atom the zero point energy also?
  27. Ranger Mike

    Exploring Zero Point Energy in Empty Space

    Does Empty Space have Mass? Does Empty Space have Energy? from a previous post i learned that energy is everywhere. Even Empty Space. zero point energy. correct? never mind , i found the answers
  28. G

    What Is The Origination Of Zero Point Energy

    Can Anybody Tell Me ,unlike Classical Mechanics What Is The Origination Of Zero Point Energy,in Quantum Mechanics?
  29. C

    Tapping the Zero Point energy

    Much ado has been made about using the ZPE as a source of unlimited energy. The Casimir effect between two plates being the quintessential experiment proving the plausibility of such claims. I recall months ago that physicsweb.org reported an experiment that found that the effect could even be...
  30. P

    Zero point energy of particle

    Homework Statement find the zero point energy of particle of mass m in one dimension under: V(x)=(1/2)kx^2 for x>0; infinity for x<0 Homework Equations ?? The Attempt at a Solution I'm completely lost :( I took a similar approach to deriving eigenvalues for a particle in a box...
  31. J

    Red shift and zero point energy

    Is there a relationship between red shift of galxies and zero point energy? Has the zero point energy changed over time?
  32. G

    Ideal Gas and Zero Point Energy

    The atoms of a solid possesses some certain min. zero point energy even at 0k, while no such restriction hold for the molecukles in an ideal gas. Use the uncertanity principle to explain these these statements. ok, so what i am thinking is the at 0k the atoms of a solid have some energy...
  33. Mk

    Zero point energy as 5th fundamental force

    I heard it suggested that the casmir effect could be related to a 5th fundamental force. I thought it was interesting, but can't explain my reasoning to thinking it was. Why couldn't it be? I almost stutter. Input?
  34. M

    Is Quantum Geometry the Zero Point Energy?

    I wonder, since the seathing quantum foam of the Zero Point Energy is made up of virtual particles that may be extended objects that have a geometry of their own as strings, branes, etc, could the quantum foam be the quantum nature of spacetime itself that we are looking for? Thanks.
  35. E

    Zero Point Energy: An Exploration of Its Meaning & Implications

    am i right to assume that zero point energy is the energy that a piece of matter must have to equal its mass via E=mc^2 or is it something else. also with the copperhaggen interpretation is it right to assume that by following it in its most literal scence that it implies that god exists.
  36. P

    The prize for zero point energy

    Although the scientific community vehemently proclaim that perpetual motion cannot be a possibility, I feel that they should put their money where their mouth is, and backup their beliefs with a wager, a sizable one, since their so confident of never being forced to pay. Presently I'm working...
  37. G

    ZPE: Exploring the Claim of Zero Point Energy Throughout Space

    I have a layman's understanding of the subject of ZPE, but one thing i can't wrap my head around is one claim hear a lot in many of the articles I'm reading; that the ZPE field is throughout all of space. With my understanding of quantum mechanics, and study of the particle in the box, as well...
  38. P

    Zero Point Energy: Unraveling the Mystery

    We will find that The Zero Point Field is as multifacited as the quantum model of an atom... Were moving into even smaller parts of our making, parts that's don't react to heat or cold or light. Were breaking down the very paint of which the portrait of our universe is made... We should not...
  39. S

    Zero Point Energy of Coupled Dipoles

    Imagine that a system with two coupled dipole is diagonalized, so that the symmetric and anti-symmetric states are chosen to be the bases. Why does the Zero point energy equal \frac{1}{2}\hbar (\omega_s + \omega_a)
  40. turbo

    Newly revised paper on zero point energy and cosmological constant

    Here is a fellow who is working on the cosmological constant problem. He is working with the standard model and has taken a different approach than mine, but has arrived at a similar understanding of the ZPE fields. In empty space, the ZPE fields are self-moderating and non-gravitating, but in...
  41. turbo

    CIPA - a fantastic Zero Point Energy website

    While web-searching for possible breaks between the equivalence of gravitational mss and inertial mass, I bumped into the CIPA web site. Pretty cutting-edge stuff relating to Zero Point Energy and how mass and inertia may arise from interaction with the vacuum field...
  42. M

    Zero Point Energy and Theory of Everything

    I have been reading some google documents on ZPE, and it seems that starting from ZPE, physicists have been able to produce Gravity and the Strong-Electro-Weak force as well as Newtonian laws, and the classical forces like momentum, friction, etc. if so, would ZPE not be the TOE everyone has...
  43. P

    Zero Point Energy related books?

    I want to explore more into this Zero Point Energy in future. I was wondering what books would start me up from basics of that subject, anyone know of any good textbooks/intro books to that subject? particle physics? Electricity? etc...
  44. Zantra

    Zero Point Energy and Antigravity(aka Electrogravitic research

    I would like to get your opinions on this area. I am not a physicist, and so my knowledge of this area is almost nonexistant. Here's the link to some compiled information, below I'll give some excerpts. I'm purely interested in the scientific views on these theories, and weather they sound...