An Overview Of Energy Creation
By Tom Seest
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At first glance, creating something from nothing seems impossible. After all, science tells us that energy cannot be created or destroyed; it can only converted from one form to another.
That is why many physicists were stunned when it became clear that the quantum vacuum is filled with particles appearing and disappearing at random, something seen both in particle accelerators as well as simple laboratory setups using graphene.
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Energy in physics refers to the ability to do work. It can take various forms, such as chemical, electrical, thermal, and gravitational. We rely on energy every day when cooking food, driving our cars, or jumping off rooftops. Energy drives change and movement and is all around us – no matter the form it takes.
Simply stated, energy can be defined as the force that causes objects to move. A substantial amount of energy allows an object to push on other objects with great force – known as kinetic energy – and cause greater movement than ever. Energy can also be stored up inside an object; when this happens, it can start moving even without external forces acting upon it. This phenomenon is called potential energy.
Energy can also be transferred between objects. We see this when plugging a light bulb into an outlet or between objects or systems. For instance, heating up coffee in a microwave causes its temperature to increase and its water to expand due to molecules having kinetic energy and moving around within it.
Scientists recently managed to make matter appear out of nothing in a laboratory by creating matter with nothing by producing an intense electric field in space and using it to generate electron-positron pairs, testing Julian Schwinger’s theory about quantum field theory. Their experiment revealed that it’s indeed possible – though with significant energy requirements.
Some may mistakenly believe that energy exists independently from any physical source; this is incorrect. Unlike mass, charge, and momentum, energy is a defined quantity that describes systems. When stored up in our bodies, it can cause legs to move during walking, but all its sources must eventually come from somewhere.
Energy is required for any form of transformation to occur. Energy comes in many different forms – potential and kinetic energies can both contribute. When dynamite explodes, its chemical energy stores convert into both potential energy and kinetic energy that can then be released as heat energy; thanks to the law of conservation of energy, this transformation occurs without being created or destroyed but instead transferred from one form into the next.
Creation from nothing is not impossible, but it does require massive amounts of energy. For instance, when two particles collide in empty space, they will typically annihilate each other into oppositely charged particles that were created out of nothingness itself. Nobel Prize-winning physicist Julian Schwinger showed how these virtual particles could persist even in an extremely strong electric field and demonstrate matter from nothingness as well as energy creation from nothingness through what is known as the Schwinger Effect.
Researchers from the University of Manchester were able to harness the Schwinger effect to generate sufficient electrical fields in their lab to coax electrons and positrons out of a quantum vacuum, creating matter out of nothing for the first time ever. This experiment proved how energy can arise out of nothing using physical laws governing energy creation.
This discovery is significant because it proves that the law of conservation of energy is not rigidly unbreakable, enabling scientists to gain greater insight into how the universe functions by studying how its energy changes over time and showing that energy can be transferred between forms without losing or creating more.
Although it is not yet possible to create an atom from nothing, this experiment shows how the rules of physics do not impede our attempts at comprehending how the universe operates and providing insight into how Earth may have come to exist. Unfortunately, perpetual motion machines do not work due to these laws, meaning anyone hoping to generate power through nothing may be sorely disappointed by what transpires.
The first law of thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created or destroyed; rather, it must only be transformed from one form to another. This principle can be summarized as saying that any change of state leaves unchanged a system’s total amount of energy – this term refers to its kinetic, potential, and heat energy stores within it as well as work done against an opposing force (like lifting weights).
Elementary physics classes often study the first law of thermodynamics by looking at changes in mechanical kinetic and potential energy and their correlation to work, though its application also extends to electromagnetic, chemical, magnetic, and strain energy sources.
Step one in understanding the first law of thermodynamics is realizing that nothing can come from nothing due to empty space being an imperfect definition of “nothing.” Scientists define it as regions in space with no visible matter or energy; however, empty spaces cannot remain completely devoid of both due to quantum mechanics’ uncertainty principle. Due to this phenomenon, pairs of particles and antiparticles can spontaneously appear even though they’re no longer needed at that point in time.
When particle-antiparticle pairs appear in an empty space, their electric fields must expel the energy that they consume before being converted into thermal or kinetic energy by particle-antiparticle interactions.
Ultimately, both kinetic and potential energy of particle-antiparticle pairs is transferred back into the quantum vacuum as particles ricochet between empty spaces surrounding them, turning the potential energy of one particle-antiparticle pair into various other forms of energy that then return back into balance with one another until their respective energies meet again in equilibrium.
The second law of thermodynamics states that for any spontaneous process, entropy in any system always increases; this stands in stark contrast with the first law, which states energy cannot be created or destroyed. The entropy of any given system can be measured by measuring randomness and disorder within that system – the more random and disordered a system is, the higher its entropy will be. Physical systems can also be measured for their entropy by looking at which way thermal energy flows and thus measuring heat transfer, chemical reactions, or particle motion or by measuring randomness within physical systems as described by heat transfer mechanisms like heat transfer/chemical reactions/motion of particles or similar phenomena such as heat transfer/chemical reactions/motion of particles, etc.
Energy can only flow from one object to the next if there is a transfer of momentum; this causes energy transfer from cooler bodies to warmer ones as heat, work, and internal energy are transferred between objects. An exception could be possible by replacing all original matter in a system with new identical ones and switching directions of thermal energy flow.
Physics scholars have long attempted to create something from nothing, typically using high levels of particle energy, which are only found in high-energy particle physics experiments or extreme astrophysical environments. But in January 2022, a team from the University of Manchester managed to create something out of nothing using standard laboratory equipment by creating an electric field capable of creating electron-positron pairs where none existed before.
Utilizing the unique properties of 2-D material graphene enabled researchers to exploit its electric field properties to isolate positively and negatively charged particles, stopping them from colliding with each other and creating virtual particle-antiparticle pairs that only exist temporarily before returning back into energy that gave them life. This breakthrough provides scientists with valuable insight into how our universe creates something from nothing – making this discovery so remarkable and exciting!
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