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The Dynamic Quantum Vacuum

  1. Jan 1, 2007 #1
    My next thread is about the Quantum Vacuum -- this idea that the vacuum is actually a player/participant in the behavior exhibited by objects, particularly smaller ones.

    So suppose we then take all the random/imprecise behavior shown by particles, and "outsource" these to the vacuum itself. So intrinsically, the particle itself is highly defined and precise -- it's only that it's sitting in this agitating vacuum which is knocking it from all sides, thus making it look imprecise/fuzzy to us.

    The electron would be happy to tightly hug the atomic nucleus under the pull of charge interaction, but the annoying vacuum keeps bopping it around like a tetherball, so that it jiggles around in these blurry orbitals.

    This annoying agitating vacuum surrounds everything, and we just can't get rid of it in order to measure how things would behave without all the constant agitation. So what do we do?
    In my opinion, Statistics and Probability are the lowest-quality descriptors of last resort, but we're willing to take any port in a storm -- especially when it's a storm we can't get rid of, like the always dynamic quantum vacuum. We're willing to settle for these abstract probability distributions and wave objects whose composition we're unable to fathom.

    In chemistry, there is the concept of Dynamic Equilibrium, whereby even if things look quiet/still at the macroscopic level, at the microscopic level things are teeming with activity. A disturbance or imbalance may cause a precipitate to appear, for example. It is perhaps in this context that the otherwise abstractly probabilistic "wave object" can have tangible meaning, in the sense of being an imbalance in the low-level noise of the dynamic vacuum.

    But surely low-level dynamic noise around a "center-line" net equilibrium of zero, is tremendously different from being flat-lined at zero. The fact that the vacuum is dynamic instead of perfectly quiet/still is of extreme importance to the future progress of physics -- and yes, engineering.

    So far, the only consideration I see engineers giving the Dynamic Vacuum is merely on how to cope with its annoying effects (eg. unwanted effects on electrical currents flowing in ever-shrinking circuits)

    How can we make the vacuum work for us? By this, I'm not necessarily talking about trying to extract actual energy/work from it (although I see lots of people dreaming about extracting Zero Point Energy, despite the unlikelihood of net harvest of energy from the sink). I'm just talking about useful ways to exploit the dynamic quantum nature of the vacuum.

    A couple of years back, someone made a strange little "spring-like" device by harnessing the Casimir effect. They placed 2 finely etched sinusoidally corrugated surfaces together, and it resulted in a lateral Casimir force that acted almost like an invisible spring. I've read that MEMS devices have to be designed to take into consideration the effects of the dynamic vacuum.

    I'd read that the Speed of Light is actually a little faster than C inside a QED cavity than it is in open space. I found that interesting, because it seems to imply that Speed of Light is a function of the vacuum.

    I also wonder -- why doesn't the interaction/buffeting by the dynamic vacuum on an entangled particle then destroy its entanglement? Yes, the little knocks from the briefly-lived virtual particles are very brief and small compared to any interaction with a non-virtual particle, but what is the threshold of disturbance that would break entanglement? How come the vacuum itself doesn't break entanglement?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 1, 2007 #2
    Alright, so let me focus again on the point from that last previous paragraph:

    If we accept that the whole reason for quantum uncertainty of a particle is due to the influence of the Dynamic Quantum vacuum on the particle, then why is the Vacuum able to interact with entangled particles without destroying their entanglement?

    Aren't these "dynamic-vacuum effects" at the very least disturbing the pristine state of entanglement in some small way? Imagine for a moment that we could magically still the turbulence of the vacuum. Then wouldn't this force the probability function of any particle to collapse into a specific state, since it's no longer being blurred by all the virtual particles bopping it?

    The effects felt by ordinary particles being hit by these virtual particles is strong enough for us to notice -- and yet they're not strong enough to break entanglement? Why?

    Or, should we consider the opposite possibility -- ie. that entanglement would not even be possible without the Dynamic Vacuum? Because if Dynamic Vacuum turbulence is what's causing the probability function wave behavior, then the absence of the Dynamic Vacuum turbulence would result in a collapse of probability function wave behavior (or non-attainment of it), so that this behavior would not be possible. Then entanglement would not be possible either.

    Does entanglement exist
    A) in spite of,
    B) because of,
    the Dynamic Vacuum?

    If case A), then this tells us that sub-Planck interactions with an entangled particle can occur without destroying entanglement. We should then find out if by reducing our observation towards the Planck threshold, it is possible to probe an entangled particle's state without destroying its entanglement.

    If case B), then this tells us that the Quantum Vacuum may itself be the communication link between the distant entangled partners. One then needs to probe the nature of the communication between entangled partners. We could for example manipulate or change the vacuum using QED cavities, etc, to see how this affects the entanglement behavior.
  4. Jan 2, 2007 #3
    I haven't studied any quantum field theory, but this doesn't seem to fit with what I know about QM. Don't these vacuum particles come exist as part of the electric field? If so, surely they'd come about in the potential of the Schrodinger eqn, but that is not where uncertainty comes from. I'm not sure at all though, as I don't really know much about QFT!

    I have been reading about an interpretation of QM called relational quantum mechanics, which I think gives a good answer to this. A system in a superposition of eigenstates from your point of view only collapses to an eigenstate when it interacts with you- ie you observe it. So a particle can interact with as many vacuum particles as it likes, it's still in a superposition of states from your point of view. All that it does is establish correlations with the particles it interacts with, so if you then go and interact with the same vacuum particles your entangled particle did, you'd find they all agree with what you measured about the particle. You'd probably have to take the vacuum particles into account, but this wouldn't have any kind of effect on the other particle yours is entangled with.
  5. Jan 2, 2007 #4
    Hi, thanks much for your response

    Well, my understanding is that the full spectrum of all possible particles make up the Quantum Vacuum. So this includes protons, neutrons, gluons, etc, etc.
    And these then naturally exert all their possible influences -- Strong, Weak, EM, etc.

    So that's why even a neutron would feel the forces from the Dynamic Vacuum, since there are plenty of non-electric influences for it to feel.
    So that's why even a neutron would have DeBroglie wavelength, Heisenberg Uncertainty, probability wave function, etc.

    Hmm, but then are we saying that a particle's entanglement will not collapse, even under interaction with some 3rd party, just as long as you and I have not yet interacted with that particle of interest, or that 3rd party?

    Hmm, but the Dynamic Vacuum is always interacting with any particle floating in it, without our even having to initiate any interaction. (Let's call it Particle A.) The virtual particles always appear out of nowhere to bop that Particle A. But the problem is that the virtual particles disappear before we can get to them to query them for answers. But if the Virtual Particles are interacting with Particle A, then they must be getting altered by Particle A, just as they themselves are altering Particle A. There's reciprocity, right?

    So how come Particle A isn't bleeding off information to the Vacuum? How come there's no "decoherence" of Particle A with respect to the Vacuum? Or is Particle A being battered symmetrically by the virtual particles from all sides, so that anything lost by it is automatically restored?

    From what you're telling me, an entangled particle cannot suffer decoherence from interaction, just as long as it's not interacting with you. I dunno, that sounds like excessive reductionism to me. It doesn't feel satisfying as an explanation, because it deliberately ignores the mechanism by which this is all supposed to occur.
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