04 October 2015

New dimensions measured in vacuum

"So far, physicists have assumed that it is impossible to directly access the characteristics of the ground state of empty space. Now, a team of physicists has succeeded in doing just that. They demonstrated a first direct observation of the so-called vacuum fluctuations by using short light pulses while employing highly precise optical measurement techniques."

"The existence of vacuum fluctuations is already known from theory as it follows from Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, one of the main pillars of quantum physics. This principle dictates that electric and magnetic fields can never vanish simultaneously. As a consequence, even total darkness is filled with finite fluctuations of the electromagnetic field, representing the quantum ground state of light and radio waves."

'Leitenstorfer was stunned by the research results himself: "We have had a few years of sometimes sleepless nights -- all possibilities of potentially interfering signals had to be excluded," smiles the physicist. "All in all we found out that our access to elementary time scales, shorter than the oscillation period of the light waves we investigate, is the key to understand the surprising possibilities that our experiment opens up."

Source: ScienceDaily

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