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Old 11-19-2004, 04:54 AM   #1 (permalink)
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What is Zero-Point Energy?

Hey all. I've noticed the use of the term "Zero-Point Energy" in the movie "The Incredibles," and the game "Half Life 2." For those of you that haven't seen these, the term seems to refer to the ability of levitate an object by shooting a ray at it and manipulating it at will. Does anyone know if it has any basis in real science? Does is have many precendents in other Science Fiction?
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Old 11-19-2004, 05:21 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I think this is another one of those cases where the entertainment sector has jumped on a quantum scientific concept and added bells and whistles to it. I looked it up but i dont understand it entirely so i'll just post the link for you http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero_point_energy

Hope that helps
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Old 11-19-2004, 08:16 AM   #3 (permalink)
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ZPE is a high-frequency reange of the electromagentic spectrum. ZPE generators attempt to convert this into electrical energy in order to provide a fuel-free, pollution-free, infinitely renewable energy source
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Old 11-19-2004, 10:50 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSelfDestruct
ZPE is a high-frequency reange of the electromagentic spectrum. ZPE generators attempt to convert this into electrical energy in order to provide a fuel-free, pollution-free, infinitely renewable energy source
Not quite. Zero point energy refers to the fact that there is really no such thing as a vacuum. No quantum field can be entirely eliminated (including the electromagnetic one). There is always a little bit left. The energy associated with this is called the zero point energy. It's the "zero point" because it's as close to zero as you're going to get to nothing.

The usual way that one might think of calculating this energy (if you knew physics) says that it is very very large. In fact, it looks to be infinite, although that will almost certainly change when a better theory is found. Because of this, a lot of people have thought that it might be possible to extract this energy and use it as an infinitely renewable energy source.

Unfortunately, most of these people are science fiction writers. If you've ever taken a physics class, you'll know that energy is meaningless on its own. Only energy differences are measurable. It is far from clear that the ZPE may be used as an energy source. It's not necessarily completely fiction either, though.
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Old 11-19-2004, 12:54 PM   #5 (permalink)
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In QED (quantum electrodynamics), the quantization of the electomagnetic field forces the Energy of the field to be non-zero even for zero quantum numbers. ie, in the absence of particles (photons) there is still energy. Thus, the ground state energy is never zero.
For example, the quantum harmonic oscillator has a zero point energy (n=0) of E=h_bar*omega.
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Old 11-19-2004, 03:55 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Old 11-19-2004, 10:24 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I thought Zero Point Modules, which utilize zero-point energy, were used to power Atlantis...
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Old 11-21-2004, 02:02 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Haaah hahaha

good one joeshoe! Silly ancients.
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