Energy out of thin air? Quantum mechanics seemingly produces magic energy

"This is real physics, not science fiction".
Chris Young
A stock image depicting a gravity wave.
A stock image depicting a gravity wave.

koto_feja / iStock 

A group of researchers essentially pulled energy out of nothing using a quirk of quantum mechanics.

Two different physics experiments proved the feat is possible when they drew energy out of an energy vacuum by teleporting energy across microscopic distances.

The new experiments drew on a 2008 theory from theoretical physicist Masahiro Hotta at Tohoku University, as per a report from Quanta Magazine.

Masahiro Hotta's energy teleportation theory

Masahiro Hotta's theory garnered little attention in 2008, as pulling energy from the quantum vacuum was considered an unrealistic possibility. However, the new experiments are arguably the final step in altering that perception among the scientific community.

Though many dismissed Hotta's theory, it was actually suggesting something a little more subtle than simply drawing energy out of thin air. The theory essentially suggested utilizing a quirk of quantum mechanics to teleport energy into an area that was otherwise devoid of any energy.

"This really does test it," Seth Lloyd, a quantum physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who wasn't part of either of the research teams, told Quanta Magazine. "You are actually teleporting. You are extracting energy."

Hotta's theory was built on an idea known as the teleportation concept, whereby physicists could pull energy from nearby into a vacuum via fluctuations in the quantum fields, and then use that energy.

Hotta's research for his 2008 theory led him to believe that negative energy wasn't an independent action. He then researched the quantum vacuum. Based on his calculations, he believed the quantum vacuum could fluctuate within quantum fields. This, in theory, meant that energy could move — or be "teleported" — between two different areas.

The teleportation concept has been produced twice by scientists from the University of Waterloo and Stony Brook University. Both sets of researchers could teleport energy across microscopic distances in two separate quantum devices, proving Hotta's theory.

Producing energy out of thin air

Building on Hotta's theory, the team at the University of Waterloo found that when energy was used up in one area, it allowed an energy vacuum in a different space to access energy.

"It was very neat to see that with current technology it's possible to observe the activation of energy," Nayeli Rodriguez-Briones, one of the researchers on the project who is now at the University of California, Berkeley, told Quanta Magazine.

When questioned about the results of the new experiments, Masahiro Hotta said, "this is real physics, not science fiction."

Source: Quanta Magazine

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