Nerds are lining up to dunk on this video, but I thought I’d share it. Interesting science stuff, like the fact that empty space is not empty, often germinates into interesting scifi stories. Watch the video, and then read the explanation below:
Here’s how it works, according to Professor Derek Leinweber: An atom is mostly empty space, but empty space is mostly not empty. The reason it looks empty is because electrons and photons don’t interact with the stuff that is there, quark and gluon field fluctuations. It actually takes energy to clear out space and make a true ’empty’ vacuum. This seems incredibly counter-intuitive but we can make an analogy to a permanent magnet. When at low energies, like at room temperature, there is a magnetic field around the magnet due to the alignment of all the magnetic moments of the atoms. But if you add some energy to it by heating it, the particles gain thermal energy, which above the Curie temperature makes their magnetic moments randomly oriented and hence destroying the magnetic field. So in this case energy is needed to clear out the field, just as in the quantum vacuum.
TL;DR – Empty space is actually filled with the energy it takes to make empty space.
You could write some interesting stories in with these kinds of facts. Would aliens make use of this to attack Earth? Could those empty spaces contain portals to different dimensions? Would humans make use of this in their search for Faster-than-light (FTL) technology? The possibilities are endless, once you start thinking of them.
So yeah, it’s fun to learn interesting science stuff and I liked learning that empty space is not empty. I hope you did, too. Most of my science fiction stories start by reading about cool science discoveries. Take this opportunity to do the same, and let your mind soar!