Cosmology and the Zero Point Energy.

Barry John Setterfield



In 1911, Max Planck’s equations indicated the presence of a real energy intrinsic to the vacuum of space. It has become known as the Zero Point Energy (ZPE) because it is present even if the vacuum is cooled to absolute zero, or about -273 degrees Centigrade. The ZPE consists of electromagnetic waves of all wavelengths, and was discovered to control the properties of the vacuum, including its electric permittivity and magnetic permeability. It was proven to exist by Mulliken in 1925, but by then the foundations of Quantum Electro-Dynamics (or QED physics) were being laid. Quantum physics considered the ZPE to be a mere mathematical abstraction with no real physical existence, despite the evidence. In 1962, Louis de Broglie, one of the physicists who had initially supported the QED approach, re-examined the situation.  He suggested that science may have taken a wrong turn in siding with the QED approach.  Since then, an approach that recognized a real, physical ZPE combined with classical physics has been developed. This approach is now called Stochastic Electro-Dynamics or SED physics. SED physics shows the ZPE to be the physical reason behind quantum effects on atoms. 

This study examines the origin of the ZPE in accord with known physical principles. Data and theory both suggest its strength should increase over the lifetime of the cosmos. The effects of a varying ZPE on atoms and atomic constants, such as Planck’s constant, h, the speed of light, c , and the rest-masses of atomic particles, m is explored. The rate of ticking of atomic clocks, including radiometric clocks and their decay rates, can also be shown to be affected by the Zero Point Energy, whereas orbital clocks (gravity-based) are not.

SED physicists have demonstrated that the ZPE maintains the atomic orbits of electrons throughout the cosmos. An increasing ZPE strength means all atomic orbits will become more energetic, resulting in all light emitted from atoms also becoming more energetic, or bluer, with time. This gives a clear explanation for the increasing red shifts which are seen in progressively more distant galaxies (the farther out we look, the further back in time we are seeing).

Changes in the Zero Point Energy through time also mean alteration of the electric and magnetic properties of the vacuum. This has implications for both plasma physics and astronomy. It is shown that plasma interactions were more rapid when the ZPE strength was lower. In almost all cosmological models, the universe is considered to have begun as plasma.  Standard astronomy says gravity began to act once neutral atoms appeared, and then vast amounts of time are needed to form galaxies and stars and planets.  However, even today, our telescopes show that plasma comprises 99% of the universe. Therefore, using plasma physics, the rates of galaxy, star and planet formation can be shown to have been much more rapid in the early cosmos. This may resolve some astronomical anomalies found at the frontiers of the universe.

An increasing ZPE also has implications for planetary geology, as well as giving a reason for gigantism in Earth’s fossil record. In all fauna, bio-electro-magnetism governs the rate of transmission of nerve impulses, which are effectively electric currents. When the ZPE was low, all electric currents, and hence nerve impulses, flowed more rapidly. This allowed larger faunal types, such as dinosaurs, to be very efficient creatures. As the ZPE increased, this efficiency was lost and only smaller varieties survived.  Because of the Zero Point Energy’s effect upon light itself, photosynthesis was also much more efficient, allowing the gigantism we see in plant fossils.

Finally, many of relativity’s predictions follow logically from the presence of a real ZPE. The concepts are intuitive and can be formulated with simple mathematics. This approach has the advantage that the restrictive postulates of relativity are not needed to achieve the same results. The real, physical ZPE is thus seen to be the common factor that unites a number of branches of science.