Zero-point energy (ZPE) or ground state energy is the lowest possible energy that a quantum mechanical system may have i.e. it is the energy of the system's ground state. Zero-point energy can have several different types of context e.g. it may be the energy associated with the ground state of an atom, a subatomic particle or even the quantum vacuum itself. According to modern physics the universe is made up of matter fields whose quanta are fermions (e.g. electrons and quarks) and force fields, whose quanta are bosons (i.e photons and gluons). All these fields have zero-point energy. The combination of all zero point fields is called the vacuum state.

Property Value
dbo:abstract
• Zero-point energy (ZPE) or ground state energy is the lowest possible energy that a quantum mechanical system may have i.e. it is the energy of the system's ground state. Zero-point energy can have several different types of context e.g. it may be the energy associated with the ground state of an atom, a subatomic particle or even the quantum vacuum itself. According to modern physics the universe is made up of matter fields whose quanta are fermions (e.g. electrons and quarks) and force fields, whose quanta are bosons (i.e photons and gluons). All these fields have zero-point energy. The combination of all zero point fields is called the vacuum state. In classical mechanics all particles can be thought of as having some energy made up of their potential energy and kinetic energy. Temperature arises from the intensity of random particle motion caused by kinetic energy (brownian motion). As temperature is reduced to absolute zero, it might be thought that all motion ceases and particles come completely to rest. In fact, however, kinetic energy is retained by particles even at the lowest possible temperature. The random motion corresponding to this zero-point energy never vanishes as a consequence of the uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics. The uncertainty principle states that no object can ever have precise values of position and velocity simultaneously. The total energy of a quantum mechanical object (potential and kinetic) is described by its Hamiltonian which also describes the system as a wave function that oscillates between various energy states (see wave-particle duality). All quantum mechanical systems undergo fluctuations even in their ground state a consequence of their wave-like nature. The uncertainty principle requires every quantum mechanical system to have a fluctating zero-point energy greater than the minimum of its classical potential well. This results in motion even at absolute zero. For example, liquid helium does not freeze under atmospheric pressure at any temperature because of its zero-point energy. Given the equivalence of mass and energy expressed by Einstein’s E = mc2, any point in space that contains energy must be able to create particles. Virtual particles spontaneously flash into existence at every point in space due to the energy of quantum fluctuations caused by the uncertainty principle. Quantum field theory treats every point of space as a quantum harmonic oscillator. Recent experiments advocate the idea that particles themselves can be thought of as excited states of the underlying quantum vacuum, and that all properties of matter are merely vacuum fluctuations arrising from interactions with the zero-point field. Physics currently lacks a full understanding of how zero-point radiation works, in particular the discrepancy between theorized and observed vacuum energy is a source of major contention. Physicists John Wheeler and Richard Feynman calculated the zero-point radiation of the vacuum to be an order of magnitude greater than nuclear energy, with one teacup containing enough to boil all the world's oceans while experimental evidence from both the expansion of the universe and the Casimir effect show any such force to be exceptionally weak. This discrepancy is known as the cosmological constant problem (or vacuum catastrophe) and is one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in physics. Many physicists believe that understanding “the vacuum holds the key to a full understanding of nature” and is critical in the search for the theory of everything. Active areas of research include the effects of virtual particles, quantum entanglement, the difference (if any) between inertial and gravitational mass, variation in the speed of light, a reason for the observed value of the cosmological constant and the nature of dark energy. The concept of zero-point energy was developed by Max Planck in Germany in 1911 as a corrective term added to a zero-grounded formula developed in his original quantum theory in 1900. The term zero-point energy is a translation from the German Nullpunktsenergie. (en)
dbo:thumbnail
dbo:wikiPageID
• 84400 (xsd:integer)
dbo:wikiPageRevisionID
• 745310206 (xsd:integer)
dbp:fontsize
• 90.0
dbp:quote
• Throughout space there is energy. Is this energy static or kinetic? If static our hopes are in vain; if kinetic – and we know it is, for certain – then it is a mere question of time when men will succeed in attaching their machinery to the very wheel work of Nature. Many generations may pass, but in time our machinery will be driven by a power obtainable at any point in the Universe.
dbp:source
• —Nikola Tesla
dbp:style
dbp:width
• 22 (xsd:integer)
dct:subject
http://purl.org/linguistics/gold/hypernym
rdf:type
rdfs:comment
• Zero-point energy (ZPE) or ground state energy is the lowest possible energy that a quantum mechanical system may have i.e. it is the energy of the system's ground state. Zero-point energy can have several different types of context e.g. it may be the energy associated with the ground state of an atom, a subatomic particle or even the quantum vacuum itself. According to modern physics the universe is made up of matter fields whose quanta are fermions (e.g. electrons and quarks) and force fields, whose quanta are bosons (i.e photons and gluons). All these fields have zero-point energy. The combination of all zero point fields is called the vacuum state. (en)
rdfs:label
• Zero-point energy (en)
owl:sameAs
prov:wasDerivedFrom
foaf:depiction
foaf:isPrimaryTopicOf
is dbo:wikiPageDisambiguates of
is dbo:wikiPageRedirects of
is foaf:primaryTopic of