4. ZPE and Atomic Stability

Any discussion about the ZPE and atomic phenomena should note that the all pervasive ZPE ‘sea’ seems to maintain the stability of atomic orbits across the cosmos. An examination of this coupled with Appendix 1 allows the behavior of atomic constants with time to be fixed.

In 1982, as part of a course on stochastic processes and SED as applied to physics, an important issue was addressed. Classical physics required an electron orbiting a proton to radiate energy, and so spiral into the nucleus. As this does not happen, QED physics invokes quantum laws as the reason why. But an actual physical explanation is still needed, and this was addressed by that SED course. If classical physics is valid, the energy electrons radiate as they orbit their protons can be calculated, along with the energy that these electrons receive from the all-pervasive ZPE. It was stated that quantitative analysis by “Boyer [90] and Claverie and Diner [91] have shown that if one considers circular orbits only, then one obtains an equilibrium [orbit] radius of the expected size [the Bohr radius]: for smaller distances, the electron absorbs too much energy from the [ZPE] field…and tends to escape, whereas for larger distances it radiates too much and tends to fall towards the nucleus” [89].

In 1987 Puthoff examined the ZPE and the stability of matter in detail [92]. The summary in the Abstract were as follows: “the ground state of the hydrogen atom can be precisely defined as resulting from a dynamic equilibrium between radiation emitted due to acceleration of the electron in its ground state orbit and radiation absorbed from the zero-point fluctuations of the background vacuum electromagnetic field…” [92].

Puthoff noted that, in the same way that a child on a swing receives resonantly timed pushes from an adult to keep the swing going, so also the electron received resonantly timed “pushes” from the ZPE. He elaborated as follows:  “The circular motion [of an electron in its orbit] can be thought of as two harmonic oscillator motions at right angles and 90 degrees out of phase, superimposed. These two oscillators are driven by the resonant components of the ZPE just as you would keep a kid swinging on a swing by resonantly-timed pushes. The oscillator motion acts as a filter to select out the energy at the right frequency (around 450 angstroms wavelength for the hydrogen atom Bohr orbit ground state)” [93]. This resonance mechanism transfers energy from the Zero Point Fields (ZPF) and maintains electrons in their atomic orbits. Since over 87% of atoms in the cosmos are hydrogen, this analysis is relevant.

The concluding comment in Puthoff’s paper also carries unusual significance. It reads: “Finally, it is seen that a well-defined, precise quantitative argument can be made that the ground state of the hydrogen atom is defined by a dynamic equilibrium in which the collapse of the state is prevented by the presence of the zero-point fluctuations of the electromagnetic field. This carries with it the attendant implication that the stability of matter itself is largely mediated by ZPF phenomena in the manner described here, a concept that transcends the usual interpretation of the role and significance of zero-point fluctuations of the vacuum electromagnetic field” [92]. Thus the very existence of atoms and atomic structures depends on this ZPE sea. Without it, all matter in the universe collapses instantaneously.

Puthoff was criticized for using SED, not QED, physics in his paper. But he had stated that: “Indeed, for the problem considered here, in the corresponding QED treatment the Heisenberg equations of motion in operator form are formally identical to the equations in this text, and quantum-mechanical ensemble averaging leads to the same results. Thus the SED treatment and conclusions presented here are reproduced without change in the corresponding QED treatment” [92]. So both QED and SED physics give the same result. New Scientist had two articles on this [94, 95], one was entitled “Why atoms don’t collapse.”


[89]  L. de la Pena, ‘Stochastic Electrodynamics: Its Development, Present Situation, And Perspectives,’ in “Stochastic Processes Applied to Physics and other Related Fields,” B. Gomez et al. eds., (World Scientific Publishing Co. Pty. Ltd, 1983), being the Proceedings of the Escuela Lationamericana de Fisica held in Cali, Colombia, (21 June-9July, 1982) 428-581.
[90]  T. H. Boyer, Phys. Rev. D 11 (1975) 790
[91]  P. Claverie and S. Diner, in Localization and delocalization in quantum chemistry, Vol.II,  O. Chalvet et al., eds, (Reidel, Dorchrecht, 1976) 395.
[92]  H.E. Puthoff, Phys. Rev. D, 35:10 (1987) 3266.
[93]  H. E. Puthoff, private communication, (3 April, 1998).
[94]  Science Editor, New Scientist, (July 1987).
[95]  H. E. Puthoff, New Scientist, 28th July (1990) 36-39.


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