Scientists in London may have just discovered a revolutionary new way to improve everything from car airbags to computer chips. What is this amazing secret? It’s nothing other than the science behind levitation.
In order to create levitation, scientists say that they must manipulate what are known as “Casimir forces”. These are the forces that would normally cause objects to stick together through the ideas of quantum force. However, scientists now say that they have discovered a way to manipulate these forces, thus turning the Casimir forces towards pushing objects apart rather than pulling them together.
Many feel that this development could be used to improve a wide range of everyday objects. Several scientists have cited that both airbags and computer chips could made much more effective through the use of levitation.
Let us not think, though, that the Casimir forces are new invention themselves. Scientists have known about their existence since the late 1940’s, and although this discovery makes it possible for small particles to repel each other, it is not a foreshadowing of the ability to levitate human beings.
When we talk about Casimir forces, we are really referring to an idea relevant to physics, which implies that there is a force which is constantly exerted between two separate objects. This force, then, is due to resonance of all relatable energy field that are present in the distance between the two objects. However, this also makes sense when we realize that in terms of physics and distance, there is no value known as zero. Such that between any two objects, the distance can only be halved, and never taken completely to zero. Thus, we can understood Casimir forces in that they are the energy fields (even if microscopic) between those two bodies. By manipulating those energy fields, which act to actually pull objects together in many instances, scientists are able to create a “push”, thus keeping two objects apart instead of attracting them together. Casimir forces have very much to do with quantum field theory.
In order to understand how scientists are able to manipulate this fields, we need to go to another important idea in physics, that each and every fundamental field can be quantized and realized at every point throughout its course. Meaning that manipulating s ingle point of a given field has the ability to affect the outcome of an entire equation or group of systems.
One still may wonder, though, what exactly the Casimir idea has to do with nano-technology, and how an advancement in levitating tiny bodies could mean so very much to science. However, the answer is very simple:
“The Casimir force is the ultimate cause of friction in the nano world, in particular in some micro-electromechanical systems,” said Professor Ulf Leonhardt, one of the scientists involved in the discovery, writing in the August issue of New Journal of Physics.
The ability to levitate these nano objects would eliminate the friction created in machines, thus allowing a much smoother operation and a greatly reduced chance of failure.
It is important to remember that Casimir is a very small, very short range force, and even reversing it makes only a small effect on very small objects. Thus, no one should expect human levitation from the discovery, although we may see definite results and changes resulting in the next few years,
Many suspect that once the power of levitation is harnessed in the micro world, many things will made much smoother and efficient, not to mention much better working. Although this discovery does not herald in the world of tomorrow, it’s definite step forward for nano-technology.