Via Motherboard: "Femtosecond Lasers Allow Physicists to Directly Observe Zero-Point Energy" by Michael Byrne
This was a good week for nothing. That is to say that it was a good
week for research into the vast strangeness that is zero-point energy—or
vacuum fluctuations, the small quantum twitches of standard deviation
that arise when every bit of matter and energy is removed from a unit of
space. The unvoid.
On Wednesday, I reported on a study
released by physicists at Chalmers University describing an experiment
in which vacuum fluctuations are probed using artificial atoms reflected
against a sort of mirror. The setup is based on using the atom's
radiative decay (aka spontaneous emission)
as an amplifier of sorts for the fizz of virtual particles that arise
in vacuum conditions. Amplification has been a key requirement of most
all zero-point energy detection experiments.
Now, a second study, released Thursday in Science,
offers a new way into the zero-point world. Crucially, it's a method
that doesn't require amplification and instead offers a means of direct
detection using the electro-optic effect, in which the refractive index
of a region of space alters the polarization of short laser probe beams.
These pulses can then be analyzed, offering up new information about
the true nature of the void...
Full article: Femtosecond Lasers Allow Physicists to Directly Observe Zero-Point Energy