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Delay of virtual particle pair annihilation

  1. Jul 20, 2011 #1
    My grasp of physics is limited, however, I am an engineer, thus I am asking for other's assistance in understanding how to delay the annihilation of a virtual particle pair.

    Most literature I've read, indicates a virtual particle pair is "real" if only briefly.
    QUESTION: How long is briefly?
    QUESTION: Can this time frame be slightly extended?

    A scenario I've proposed to University professors via email and gotten nothing back follows:

    The intent is to provide a method of propulsion for a spacecraft. I understand this is not free energy. What I am proposing, is to utilize magnetic fields and an electric field to stimulate the creation of virtual particles, and then separate a virtual particle pair as it is created to then reunite the two "temporarily real" particles at one location. Then repeat this process to cause more annihilations to occur on one side of the device than on the opposing side. If this scenario were to be possible, would a push or thrust be experienced on the side of the device where more annihilations are occurring?

    Just today, I read in physics dot org an article titled 'Could the Big Bang have been a quick conversion of antimatter to matter'. This seems to dovetail into what I've propsed as a potential for using particle pair annihilation as a method of thrust.

    "To explain how these virtual particle-antiparticle pairs can become real ones, Hajdukovic turns to the Schwinger mechanism, which says that an electric field stronger than a critical value can create real electron-positron pairs from the quantum vacuum."

    QUESTION: Would it be difficult to test this type of idea?
    QUESTION: How large an electric field is needed?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 20, 2011 #2
    I guess you will get allot of virtual photons...

    A: Roughly 10E-18 seconds
    A: I don't *think* so (at least not by much), not without creating real particles

    If you separate the particle-antiparticle pair they are now real particles. If you do this with a magnetic field you will get allot of electron-anti electron pairs.

    A: Exceedingly (but you could calculate the relevant results)
    A: Retardedly (to use a very scientific word)

    EDIT: I want to know when engineers are going to start work on the Alcubierre drive!
  4. Jul 20, 2011 #3
    Just don't do the experiment in the Coulomb gauge :smile:

    Have a search around the physicsforums site for discussions of virtual particles. You'll find lots of interesting posts about what they are or are not...!
  5. Jul 20, 2011 #4
    A way to observe their stimulated production to real, extend life particles, is via

    the Unruh effect. These appear for an accelerating observer as black body radiation....
  6. Jul 24, 2011 #5
    To Christopher G's comment...

    The actual intent would be to reap the benefit of matter and anti-matter annihilations, the starting point being the use of virtual particles which are theoretically being produced everywhere in the Universe all the time. It is not intrinsic to the idea that the virtual particles stay virtual particles, in fact, the intent is to convert them (or as a result of their presence) generate matter and anti-matter annihilations. I would hope to direct the location of these annilations to one side of a ship/motor/device. This would involve separating the particle from its anti-particle and then reuniting them on the thrust side of the ship/motor/device.


    I am not proposing "free energy of the tin foil hat syndrome type", what I am proposing is that we utilize existiing phenomenon, and direct that energy. A similar concept of using existing energy (that is actually free...as we don't pay for sunlight) would be to use a parabolic mirror and focus the suns energy into one location thereby heating that point so that the heat can be used to run process, evaporation of water into steam and thereby generate electricity.

    NOTE 1: As a side note...ion thrusters are used currently on spacecraft to generate miniscule but useable amounts of thrust. I am curious if a metal plate or parabolic metal surface that is heated using focused sunlight would generate enough infra-red radiation so that it creates a thrust...if so...would that be a useable amount of thrust.

    NOTE 2: Another possible engine that would be great for to generate an electrical field is essentially a Stirling engine. The vacuum of space is the perfect place for such an engine, (or a space colony on a thin atmospheric rock). As the Stirling requires only a confined gas and a difference in temperature to operate, and the vacuum of space is a great heat sink, the Stirling would require only a heat source (as mentioned above a parabolic mirror to focus the Sun' rays onto the rod end of the Stirling, and the cooling fin section around the cylinder would radiate the heat away so that the internal piston and slip disc would move as described in literature. i.e. and expanding gas moves the piston and slip disk, as the gas expands it cools, and the heat from the process is radiated to the vacuum. As the gas cools it contracts and the piston moves back to its original starting point. I submitted this idea to NASA decades ago, and they still use batteries or radioactive decay as a method to power spacecraft. This technique could easily work for the space station. It only requires a computerized control system to control the orientation of the parabolic mirror so that the heated end stays facing the sun, and the cooled end would be in the shadow of the parabolic mirror focusing its rays on the heated end.

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