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To Infinity and Beyond: Transcending our Limitations (cont.)By Nassim Haramein

Energy Density of the Vacuum

It seemed that in the quantum world, a difficulty had been encountered when physicists tried to calculate the energy density of an oscillator such as an atom. It turned out that some of the vibrations still existed, even when the system was brought to absolute zero, where you would think that all the energy would be gone. In fact, the equations showed that there was an infinite amount of possible energy fluctuation even within the vacuum.

To understand this better, physicists applied a principle of "renormalisation", using a fundamental constant to cut off the number and get a finite idea of how dense the vacuum energy must be, with all its vibrations. The cut-off value used was the Planck's distance or length, named after the great physicist Max Planck, who is considered to be the founder of quantum theory. This value is thought to be the smallest vibration possible, being in the order of 10–33 centimetres and having a mass–energy in the order of 10–5 grams.

The calculations that were done entailed working out how many teeny Planck's volume vibrations could coexist in a cubic centimetre of space... The result was enormous!

The calculations that were done entailed working out how many teeny Planck's volume vibrations could coexist in a cubic centimetre of space. The answer, since each Planck's volume had a specific mass, was a mass–energy density that existed in a centimetre cubed of space. The result was enormous! The vacuum energy density, or what can be called a Planck's density, was in the order of 1093 grams per cubic centimetre of space and was quickly dubbed "the worst prediction physics has ever made" or "the vacuum catastrophe".

To give you an idea of how dense this value is, if you were to take all of the matter we observed in our Universe today with billions of galaxies containing billions of stars, most of which are much larger than our Sun, and we were to stuff them all into a centimetre cube of space, the density of that cube would only be 10 55 grams. This is still some 38 orders of magnitude less dense than the density of the vacuum. Many scientists thought that this figure was ridiculous, and in general it fell into obscurity. Even today, some trained physicists are not necessarily aware of this value. Throughout the years I've received prompt criticism from certain physicists who either were unaware of its existence or simply discarded it, as if the largest energy quantity ever predicted could be completely ignored.

However, the vacuum fluctuations of energy are crucial to our understanding of particle physics at this point, as they are the source of virtual particle creation at the atomic level, which is essential to our current understanding of physics.

More importantly, in 1948 the Dutch physicist Hendrik Casimir calculated and elaborated a configuration that would ultimately allow an experimental validation of this vacuum energy. Casimir reasoned that if two plates were placed close enough to each other so that the longer wavelengths of the vacuum oscillations would be eliminated from between the plates and yet would still be present on the outside of the plates, then a minute gradient could be generated where there would be more pressure on the outside and less on the inside, resulting in the plates being pushed together. However, when the distance by which the plates had to be separated to do the job was calculated, it was found that the plates had to be mere microns apart. This was an impossible task in 1948, and it wasn't until the early 1990s that this experimental test could be done successfully. The result agreed very well with the calculations done by Casimir, showing that this energy of the structure of space itself is truly present.

So at least the energy was there in the vacuum at the quantum resolution. Could it be the energy that connects all things, the energy from which everything emerges and to which everything returns? Well, if so, it would have to be present at all scales.

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