vacuum energy drive

A vacuum energy drive is a hypothetical form of propulsion based on the discovery that a vacuum, far from being a pocket of nothingness, actually churns and seethes with unseen activity. This cosmic unrest is caused by quantum fluctuations, tiny ripples of energy – so-called zero-points – in the fabric of spacetime. By interfering with these fluctuations, it may be possible to tap their energy (see zero point energy). So far, only relatively crude demonstrations of the power of quantum fluctuations have been carried out. In one set of experiments, carried out by physicists led by the late Nobel Prize winner Hendrik Casimir (see Casimir effect, two metal plates were clamped and held together by zero-point forces. The crucial point is that the plates were brought together with a force that heated them up very slightly. This isn't enough to run a starship, but it demonstrated that it is possible to tap the energy field of a vacuum and turn it into power. One proposal for creating a quantum fluctuation space-drive is based on the idea that these tiny energy ripples hold objects back as they fly through space. They are responsible for the phenomenon of inertia. If we could counter this effect, rockets would need much less fuel to overcome their own inertia, and would fly through space with far less effort.



1. Cole, D. C., and H. E. Puthoff. "Extracting energy and heat from the vacuum." Physical Review E, 48(2), 1562–1565 (1993).
2. Forward, R. L. "Apparent Method for Extraction of Propulsion Energy from the Vacuum." Paper AIAA 98-3140, 34th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference, Cleveland, Ohio (13–15 July, 1998).