Movement from nothing
Date: Thursday, February 05, 2004 @ 20:22:27 GMT
Topic: Science

2 February 2003 - Nature/Science Update: Empty space can set objects in motion, a physicist claims; by PHILIP BALL

The empty space between stars contains energy from virtual particles. © NASA

Alexander Feigel of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot says that objects can achieve speeds of several centimetres an hour by getting a push from the empty space of a vacuum1...

"...The whole idea of getting movement from nothing sounds like a gift to advocates of perpetual-motion machines. But there's nothing in Feigel's theory that violates the fundamental laws of physics, so this doesn’t provide a way to cheat the Universe and get free energy.

Instead, Feigel draws on the well-established notion that empty space does contain a little bit of energy. "This ‘vacuum energy’ is a consequence of the uncertainty principle — one of the cornerstones of quantum mechanics.

Because of the uncertainty principle, subatomic particles or photons can appear spontaneously in empty space — provided that they promptly vanish again. This constant production and destruction of 'virtual particles' in a vacuum imbues the vacuum with a small amount of energy..."

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