If proven true, the theoretical physicist John Pendry’s hyperbolic statement won’t just apply to physicists’ breasts, as who isn’t excited by the suggestion that empty space is far from empty. In fact, it might be possible to make sparks fly.
Literally. Taking on the quantum theory that says a vacuum has heaps of particles floating around, the Chalmers University of Technology researchers in Gothenburg, Sweden, rigged up a superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) which moved at almost the speed of light through a magnetic field. As the SQUID is so sensitive to magnetic fields, it actually moved enough that it could be seen.
What followed next proved quantum theory, as allegedly photons actually flew from the vacuum, at half the frequency that the SQUID mirror was moved. The team’s findings will be presented next week in Italy, and even if verified, not that much will come of it yet – the photons generated will be so small, they’ll hardly be able to be harnessed for any particular use. Still, it’ll be nice to know it’s possible, won’t it? [Nature]
Image credit: Sroemerm