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Zero Point Energy

  1. May 1, 2013 #1
    Hello I don't know much about physics but I thought I would come here because the topic interests me and I would like more professional opinions on the matter as their seems to be a lot of disinformation out there. People claiming to have created free energy machines and the like, Which make use of tesla coils and stuff.

    What I was wondering is that is zero point energy impossible to harness, Is the ground state really unavailable to us? A detailed explanation as to why this is so would be nice. I am currently obsessed with the casimir experiment which I want to replicate for myself some day once I have learnt a sufficient amount of physics.

    Thank you for your time.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 1, 2013 #2
    A key thing to realize is that energy alone is not useful. Its not good enough to have energy in order to do work. You need to "move" the energy from one place to another and while doing that you can perform work. This is where the idea of entropy is important. Entropy must increase or stay the same, that means energy will only "move" in one direction, towards higher entropy.

    For a practical example, consider a ship on the ocean. The ocean contains vast, vast amounts of thermal energy. More than enough to run the ship. Why not run the ship off of the ocean thermal energy? Because its not enough to simply have energy. You have to move it to get work. If you can devise a way to move the thermal energy of the warm ocean water to a colder reservoir you could do work with it (that is, power the ship). Unfortunately no such reservoir exists for the ship to take advantage of.

    Zero point energy is similar. There is no where to dump it and get useful work out. To get useful work you need to move from a higher energy state to a lower energy state and output some energy for the work, but there is no lower state. Its the lowest state there is, that is the definition of zero point.

    Note that discussion of perpetual energy devices is explicitly banned here. Its not science and its distracting from this forums intent.
  4. May 1, 2013 #3
    Sorry I didn't know about the ban but your analogy has really cleared up my thinking.
  5. May 1, 2013 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    Thanks ModusPwnd. Thread closed.
  6. May 2, 2013 #5


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