Ground States and the Zero-Point Field
Date: Friday, August 04, 2017 @ 21:16:53 EDT
Topic: Science

From EarthTech International - Institute for Advanced Studies at Austin: Introduction

The electromagnetic zero-point field (ZPF), a sea of background electromagnetic energy that fills the vacuum, is often regarded merely as a curious outcome of the quantum mechanical requirement that the lowest allowable energy level in a harmonic oscillator mode is not zero but ħw /2, where w is the characteristic frequency of the oscillator. However, there is a growing body of evidence that the ZPF may play a causal role in some important fundamental processes. For example, it has been demonstrated[1] experimentally that the familiar spontaneous emission process in atoms can be regarded as stimulated emission by ZPF radiation. Of particular pertinence to this experiment, we have shown[2] that a dynamic equilibrium with the ZPF can explain the electronic ground state of the hydrogen atom. Unfortunately, this particular hypothesis has resisted our efforts to design a practical experimental test. However, there is a closely related hypothesis that is much easier to test.


 It has been shown[3] that a charged harmonic oscillator immersed in the zero-point field (ZPF) will reach dynamic equilibrium with the ZPF when the oscillator energy is equal to ħw /2, where w is the oscillator frequency. Diatomic molecules have vibrational modes that closely approximate those of a harmonic oscillator at low energy levels. The ground state energy of such molecules is also given by ħw /2, where w is the molecular vibration frequency. We hypothesize that these molecular ground states are not fixed and immutable, as suggested by quantum theory, but are a result of dynamic equilibrium with the ZPF. We tested this hypothesis by measuring the vibrational ground state energy of H2 molecules placed into a Casimir cavity that suppresses the ZPF frequencies at the corresponding molecular vibration frequency (1.32 X 1014 Hz, 2.2 micron wavelength).
Experimental Strategy

We measured the vibrational ground state energy of H2 molecules indirectly by measuring the molecular dissociation energy. If the ground state energy were reduced, the dissociation energy would necessarily increase correspondingly.

The dissociation energy of H2 has been accurately measured[4] by observing the location of the absorption edge that occurs at about 84.5 nm (14.7 eV – EUV). This edge corresponds to photodissociation of the molecule into one ground state H atom and one H atom in the 1st excited electronic state (+10.2 eV). The difference, about 4.5 eV, is the dissociation energy...

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