Zero-Point Energy

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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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The PPP central leader said, 'The closure of the Zero-Point trade gate, despite inking of a mutual border agreement with the Iranian authorities, has resulted in shortage of routine commodities.'
He made it clear that his party would not let the poor people of Chagai and border-related areas suffer and urged the government to take up the issue during mutual border meetings and on diplomatic level otherwise his party would utilise every democratic right to stage protests against Zero-Point's prolonged closure and the government's incompetency.
In the PV theory, the radian-frequency spectrum of the zero-point electric field is approximately (0, c/[r.sub.*]), where the upper limit is the Planck frequency c/[r.sub.*](~ [10.sup.43] rad/s).
The nonrelativistic planewave expansion (perpendicular to the propagation vector [??]) of the zero-point electric field that permeates the free space of the Dirac particles is [1] [5]
Charles Creekmore suggests that understanding the zero-point field (ZPF) will give us a "theory of everything" and a "unifying concept of the universe." All this, despite there being no conclusive experimental evidence of its existence.
"Iran has closed the zero-point, suspending all trade activities," The Dawn quoted Tufail Baloch, a senior official of the Chagai District administration, as saying.
Local traders have said that they are facing serious problems, as most of the edible items come from across the border through the zero-point.
A look at the surprising possibilities being studied by some of history's most renowned skeptics, known collectively as the scientific community, reveals that Einstein's zero-point field seems to be all things to all people, attracting everyone from astrophysicists to metaphysicists.
QUETTA, January 26, 2011 (Frontier Star): Iranian Authorities have opened the mutual trade gate Zero-Point situated at Pak-Iran border after about 6 months for trade hereon Wednesday.
QUETTA, January 26, 2011 (Balochistan Times): Iranian Authorities have opened the mutual trade gate Zero-Point situated at Pak-Iran border after about 6 months for trade hereon Wednesday.
CHAGAI, January 09, 2011 (Balochistan Times): A rally was taken out in the town on Sunday to protest closure of Taftan Zero-Point at Pak-Iran border for the last several months.
ISLAMABAD, June 21, 2010 (Balochistan Times): Capital development Authority (CDA) and Islamabad Model Traffic police without devising any alternate route for traffic flow initiated demolition of bridges at Zero-Point interchange that has become nuisance for the drivers and transporters in the capital city.