Friday, September 19, 2008

DARPA seeks Casimir forcefields

Dave Tackett over at the Quasar Dragons blog sends in an odd article from the Register. It seems of late DARPA has expressed interest in the Casimir effect. And no I don't mean they want to develop an insidiously itchy sweater. Darpa's interest is in the little understood "Casimir Force". The mysterious Casimir Force, is the tendency of nanoscopic, barely perceptible spacetime ripples - at the edges of the "quantum vacuum" in which all matter exists - to push things together. Some scientists have previously speculated that one might reverse the effect, fashioning a Casimir repelor platform causing objects to levitate on "literally, nothing".

As strange and far out as this seems, Darpa has gone so far as to issued a request for proposals (pdf), in which it is said:
  • The goal of this program is to develop new methods to control and manipulate attractive and repulsive forces at surfaces based on engineering of the Casimir Force. One could leverage this ability to control phenomena such as adhesion in nanodevices, drag on vehicles and many other interactions of interest... Possible approaches ... could include the development of composite materials, engineered nanostructures, mixed-phase materials, or active elements.
Now the Register article is all a bit tongue in cheek, but there are some very interesting points raised, if a bit far fetched.

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Shaun said...

The Casimir effect might also be tapped as a source of unlimited energy :-)

paul said...

he he I wondered who would go there first! They mentioned zero point in the article, but I thought...ahhhh stretching it. But your right....something here that don't quite add yet. Be interesting to see who this proceeds.

Shaun A. Saunders said...

There's really nothing 'new' about the Casimir effect - it's just an expression of energy continually appearing from the quantum 'foam'...and yet, we're told there's an energy 'shortage'...what a crock of bullshit! In various forms, it's been investigated for a good century...oh, but then, energy that doesn't require mining, burning and so on - or distribution centres, is hard to meter, isn't it????