Zero-Point Energy

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Related to Zero-Point Energy: ZPE

zero-point energy

[′zir·ō ¦pȯint ′en·ər·jē]
(statistical mechanics)
The kinetic energy retained by the molecules of a substance at a temperature of absolute zero.

Zero-Point Energy


in a quantum-mechanical system, the difference between the ground-state energy and the energy that corresponds to the minimum potential energy. Zero-point energy is a consequence of the uncertainty principle (seeUNCERTAINTY PRINCIPLE).

In classical mechanics it was assumed that a particle can exist in a state of minimum potential energy and have zero kinetic energy. In this case the particle is at stable equilibrium and has a minimum energy equal to the potential energy at the equilibrium point. In quantum mechanics the uncertainty principle states that the range of values Δx for the coordinate x of a particle is related to the range of values ΔP for the particle’s momentum P by the expression ΔPΔx ∼ ħ, where ħ is Planck’s constant. As Δ x → 0, the localization of the particle near the potential energy minimum gives a large value for the particle’s mean kinetic energy, since the range of values of the momentum is large, as implied by the expression ΔP∼ħΔx. On the other hand, when Δx ≠ 0, that is, when the degree of the particle’s localization is reduced, the mean potential energy increases because the particle spends considerable time in an area in which the potential energy exceeds the minimum value the ground-state energy of a quantum-mechanical system corresponds to the lowest energy that is permitted by the uncertainty principle.

Zero-point energy is a general property of all coupled systems of microparticles. It is not possible to convert a system into a state that has an energy lower than zero-point energy without changing the system’s structure.


References in periodicals archive ?
The uncertainty principle requires every physical system to have a zero-point energy greater than the minimum of its classical potential well.
Yes, zero-point energy is real, as the Casimir effect and the Lamb shift bear out; but basic thermodynamics precludes extracting arbitrarily large "free energy" from the vacuum.
Harmonic vibrational frequencies calculated at the same level were used for characterization of stationary points as a minimum or a saddle point and for zero-point energy (ZPE) corrections.
Channel cats are affected by the cold water, it's just that they remain relatively more active than the flat-heads, like subatomic particles maintaining a certain level of zero-point energy.
2005, third edition) Practical Conversion of Zero-Point Energy: Feasibility Study of the Extraction of Zero-Point Energy from the Quantum Vacuum for the Performance of Useful Work.
It was noted that the zero-point energy in the c state (7 1 .
Hal Puthoff, a physicist (and parapsychologist), is exploring zero-point energy (ZPE), a hypothetical plenum of electromagnetic energy that fills space and interacts with gravitation and inertia.
Sir Martin is sufficiently devastating when he takes on the Higher Baloney--Freud, Zero-Point energy, postmodern critiques of science (there is a very good chapter on the Sokal hoax)--but I think it is the downright loopy that really tickles his fancy.
Violation of any of the laws of thermodynamics was out of the question, although several investigators did speculate about their experiments somehow tapping into a quantum zero-point energy field.
Fossil fuels will be banned when eventually we discover how to use Zero-Point Energy, which is thought to give gravity its power.
Investigations into Pseudoscience," includes information and activities on dowsing to detect underground water, handwriting analysis, the debate over aliens landing at Roswell, New Mexico, perpetual motion and zero-point energy, and therapeutic touch.