Understanding Zero Point Energy
Keywords: zero point energy, ZPE, nuclear energy, densities, energy, space travel, force
For the first time in history, a lot of media attention is being paid to the sea of energy that pervades all of space. It just happens to be the biggest sea of energy that is known to exist and we're floating inside it. (Credit due to The Sea of Energy by T. Henry Moray for the idea.) Not only is is big but its energy is estimated to exceed nuclear energy densities, so even a small piece of it is worth its weight in gold. What is it? Many people are not sure what "zero point energy" (ZPE) is. Most agree that virtual particle fluctuation contributes to it and van der Waals forces don't explain everything. Does it offer a source of unlimited, free energy for homes, cars, and space travel? Depending on who we talk to, ZPE can do everything and ZPE can do nothing useful. How can the energy be converted to a usable form? What are the basic explanations of ZPE and the new discoveries, which have rocked the U.S. Patent Office. Physical Review Letters, Science, Scientific American, and the New York Times? Why is ZPE implicated in the latest confirmation of cosmological antigravity? Can the Casimir effect be a source of energy? This article is intended to give a review of the latest developments (as well as an introduction to the topic for those who are non-specialists).