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'Zero-Point Energy' Status

  1. Oct 27, 2007 #1
    What is the current peer-considered consensus opinion on the status of 'Zero-Point Energy'?

    Given that so much counter-intuitive stuff in quantum physics is also observable, palpable, fact, I am having a hard time weeding out the crackpot fantasies. They now come with all the terminology of more hard-won sciences, and faked videos as well!

    One tries to keep an open mind, but can be forgiven for getting wary.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 27, 2007 #2
    To my understanding there's at least three different kind of zero-point energies. Here's my list of them:

    (1) The zero-point energy of three dimensional quantum mechanical harmonic oscillators. I don't know if there is direct experimental verification because usually only energy differences matter. Some solid state guys can probably tell more about it. But this one anyway is absolutely real physics. You can find about it in any text book on QM.

    (2) The zero-point energy of infinite dimensional harmonic oscillator, which quantum fields are. This one is more problematic. I'm not (yet) expert on this field, but if I've understood correctly, it could be that when theoretical physics proceeds forward, we get more understanding about what these infinite background energies are.

    (3) The crackpot zero-point energy, that can be sucked out of the space and turned into mechanical energy. The only application so far has been video documents that bring money to the creators of the documents, but not one single machine that would actually work. Hey come on! :biggrin:

    So what's the status of the zero-point energy. Its a real thing in physics, that some folks abuse a little bit.
  4. Oct 27, 2007 #3
    Thanks much jostpuur.
    About 3 months ago, a colleague made me aware of an impending demonstration of an energy device by a company called 'Steorn', to to take place at the Kinetica Museum in London. I said at the time "Something will happen to deflect this. They will have a power failure.. a meteorite will hit the museum.. a bomb scare .. an authentic alien landing .. any excuse - but it will not happen"!
    Still - they have had at least a couple of million out of their investors.
  5. Oct 27, 2007 #4


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    Steron is more than a hoax, it is outright fraud of the scientific and the economic type. There will be no demonstration.

    Zero point energy is something that exists, but it is not dense enough to be useful. So everything you've heard about harnessing it is crackpottery/hoaxes.
  6. Oct 27, 2007 #5
    I don't know about this anymore than what the Wikipedia says.


  7. Oct 27, 2007 #6
    Steorn was easy enough to put into the crackpot class.

    Usually I can sense the real deal when I come across it. Good recent examples might be the contribution by the late Robert Bussard on Inertial Electrostatic Confinement fusion, using Polywell devices, revealed in a Google 'Tech Talk' video. Eric Lerner also used the Google facility to present his versions. We now find in garages and university labs worldwide, all sorts of experimenters having fun discharging big capacitors into these novel structures, while looking for a few neutrons.

    You get frauds. You get the the honest, but sadly deluded. We still have to look hard even at crackpot ideas. What I find frustrating is when they come with patents, deliberately couched in all the familiar language and style, and which are just part of a PR spin job to tease out 'risk money'.

    Pseudoscience is not allowed on this site, but there must be times when the moderators are just not sure.
  8. Oct 28, 2007 #7

    Ivan Seeking

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    Not really. This forum is for the exploration of claimed phenomena, not formal theories. For theories we have peer-reviewed journals to do the job for us. :wink:

    From the posting guidelines
    Likewise, if someone claims to have a new energy source, for example, that is a claim for the journals to sort out. There is no need to debunk this sort of thing because it can be tested. If a claim like this doesn't show up in a respectable and applicable journal, then, for the moment at least, consider it debunked.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2007
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