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Infinite Energy beneath Quantum Vacuum?

  1. Feb 21, 2012 #1
    In the thread https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=343049

    Science Advisor Born2bwire mentioned: "Since the vacuum state has infinite energy, it has infinite photons. Everytime we add energy into the electromagnetic fields, we just pull a photon out of the vacuum state." How many believe this and is there a refutation to this idea... because it seems that if it is true, then beneath the quantum vacuum lies a source of infinite energy.. literally".

    Born2bwire wrote:

  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 21, 2012 #2
    There's experiments that provide evidence for pair-anti-pair annihilation within the vaccum of space, but it's too inefficient of a source to extract energy from. I think if there is "infinite" energy and we can just take whatever we want from it, there's going to need to be some more proof and equations other than just "well its probable isn't it?".
    Also, virtual particles aren't real, but they aren't fake. They occupy a sort of "i" realm.
  4. Feb 21, 2012 #3

    How many have read the above book "The Quantum Vacuum: An Introduction to Quantum Electrodynamics" by Peter Milonni. Is it so unique compared to others and worth the $123? (I already own dozens of QED books in ebook form). Note the book cover is entirely black without any title so it's like a collector's item. Or maybe the dusk jacket was simply removed?

    Descriptions: "In modern physics, the classical vacuum of tranquil nothingness has been replaced by a quantum vacuum with fluctuations of measurable consequence. In The Quantum Vacuum, Peter Milonni describes the concept of the vacuum in quantum physics with an emphasis on quantum electrodynamics. He elucidates in depth and detail the role of the vacuum electromagnetic field in spontaneous emission, the Lamb shift, van der Waals, and Casimir forces, and a variety of other phenomena, some of which are of technological as well as purely scientific importance."
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  5. Feb 22, 2012 #4


    Staff: Mentor

    That QFT predicts the vacuum has infinite energy is a sickness in the theory like the electron having infinite charge - the theory is wrong. And the answer is the same - we introduce a cutoff until the physics at very high energies is understood better - that's one thing they hope a TOE will solve.

  6. Feb 22, 2012 #5


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    Gold Member

    If you assume the empty vacuum of deep space is the ground state of the universe, then whatever energy it may contain is inaccesible because no lower energy state is available. We also know that naive calculations of vacuum energy yield a value that is 120 orders of magnitude too high [compared to observation].
  7. Feb 22, 2012 #6
    What is the context of the meaning of "no lower energy state is available", please elaborate. Thanks.
  8. Feb 22, 2012 #7


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    Yes, the answer is the same: that in fact QFT does not predict the vacuum has infinite energy. Any more than it predicts the electron has infinite charge.
    Naive is an understatement. I think people like to quote this value just to scare graduate students. The 'naive' value for the energy density comes from assuming an energy density of one Planck mass per cubic Planck length. This is not a serious prediction. :uhh:
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