Science

Nanobots may use Zero Point Energy

Posted 3 Jul 2006 at 17:17 UTC by steve Share This

The Zero Point energy described by quantum field theory may be most familiar as a buzzword found in pseudoscientific descriptions of perpetual motion machines or as a plot device in science fiction. Zero Point energy is the almost unimaginably large amount of energy associated with the void of space and believed to be the source of the cosmological constant. Quantum physics doesn't seem to provide us with any mechanism to tap into Zero Point energy directly to create "free energy" machines. However, it does produce the well documented Casimir effect on small objects that are extremely close together. Nanotechnology researchers at the University of Leicester think that means the energy could provide the answer to allowing nanobots to easily manipulate small objects without touching them. This would be an advantage over traditional mechanics because at the nanoscopic scale any matter which comes into contact tends to be "sticky", making it hard for tiny robots to manipulate things without becoming stuck to them. The University has announced a research project in cooperation with several other institutions. Bell Labs published a paper in 2001 predicting that micromechanical devices might be able to take advantage of Casimir force.


Zed PMs Also Have The Gilligan Effect!, posted 3 Jul 2006 at 18:07 UTC by The Swirling Brain » (Master)

The SciFi series StarGate Atlantis talks about Zero Point Modules all the time (They call them Zed PM or ZPM). It's sort of like Gilligan's Island where they can't get off the island because every time they try they fail by the end of the show. On Stargate Atlantis the plot goes that they start off finding a ZedPM and by the end of the show, it turns out it's either run down already or they've lost it for one reason or another. Boo hoo. Foiled again. No ZPM for Stargate Atlantis. I call it the Gilligan effect and every series has one. So this Gilligan effect proves that scientists will never be able to retain and use the full power of the ZPMs even at a nano scale.

batteries not included ?, posted 7 Jul 2006 at 12:27 UTC by slap.fish » (Journeyer)

so if these ZPMs are often 'run-down' - it must mean they need some sort of power source... ?

doh!

ZPMs, posted 7 Jul 2006 at 23:00 UTC by steve » (Master)

If I remember my Stargate tech correctly, each ZPM actually contains an artificially created mini-universe. As the zero point energy is tapped out of it, the mini-universe eventually reaches maximum entropy, at which point your ZPM is no good anymore (because no one around today can replicate the ancient technology used to create the ZPMs). They're supposed to last a million years or so with normal use but, of course, the Stargate characters only have a handful of million-year-old ZPMs to begin with and they always seem to run into weird situations that suck one of their ZPMs dry in 10 minutes.

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