1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

What is the Casimir Effect?

  1. Aug 3, 2009 #1
    What exactly is the Casimir Effect?
    Could somebody explain the basics?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 3, 2009 #2


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Basically the idea is that all of space is filled with waves of various sorts. (This is a quantum-mechanical thing) Normally, in empty space, there are waves of all different wavelengths, but when you have a small space between two surfaces, only the waves whose wavelengths are factors of the size of the space will exist in that space. Any other waves will be reflected back and forth and cancel each other out. (Example: in a 1cm cavity, you could have waves of 1cm, .5cm, .25cm, etc. but not, say, .7cm)

    Now, if you have two flat plates sitting a short distance apart, the waves between them are limited to certain wavelengths. But the waves outside the plates can have any wavelength. So you have a higher energy density on one side of each plate than on the other, and whenever there is a difference of energy densities, you get a force that tries to equalize them. That force is responsible for the Casimir effect.
  4. Aug 3, 2009 #3
    Cool. Thanks!
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Discussions: What is the Casimir Effect?
  1. Casimir effect (Replies: 11)

  2. Casimir effect (Replies: 0)

  3. Casimir effect (Replies: 5)

  4. Casimir effect (Replies: 1)

  5. Casimir effect (Replies: 1)