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RE: RE: starship-design: Casimir-Foreward balloon
> Connor writes:
> > On another unrelated propulsion topic, a physicist friend
> of mine was
> > telling me about virtual particles (a particle and an anti particle
> > are constantly popping into existence and annihilating
> eachother, so
> > to conserve matter another two pop in, and so on. At any given time
> > there are virtual particles all around, appearing and dissapearing.
> > I was wondering how theoretical this is, if you guys buy
> it (or have
> > heard of it), and how it could be applied to propulsion. I
> think the
> > startrek ships fly with matter-antimatter reactions. Could
> they just
> > bussard the matter/antimatter out of space and let them go off in a
> > combustion chamber?
> Steve writes:
> Virtual particles are pretty well accepted in quantum mechanics, but
> their fundamental property is that their energy is borrowed from the
> vacuum and has to be given back. A virtual particle either has to
> disappear shortly after its formation or something else has to give up
> energy for the virtual particle to remain in existence.
> A lot of the talk about "zero point energy" is essentially the idea of
> somehow permanently extracting energy from the vacuum; in theory for
> various kinds of quantum effects to happen, there has to be a pretty
> deep pool of energy in the vacuum for them to temporarily borrow from.
> Whether it's really possible to permanently take energy from
> the vacuum
> is still a big question, though.
The pool of energy is so large that if we do manage to tap it we had best be
VERY careful. The "accidental" release of the energy contained in only a few
cubic centimeters would vaporize a planet...
Maybe this is one of those children with matches things. We should leave it
alone until we are older and wiser!