Radiations is a weekly electronic newsletter published by the Physics and Astronomy Department of Carleton College. The deadline for materials to be included in Radiations is 9:00 AM Monday of the week you would like the information to appear. Contact tfields@carleton.edu if you want to be added or removed from this mailing list.

Volume 20, Issue 13 (January 20, 2014)

Ben Hubbert's Comps Presentation

January 17, 2014
By Trenne Fields

Ben Hubbert Comps Presentation
Monday, January 27, 2014 8:30 am
Olin 141

Physical Ramifications of Nonzero Vacuum Energy

Quantum mechanics states that space itself is quantized, and the energy of empty space is nonzero.  This ‘vacuum energy’ has several surprising effects on matter and energy in our universe.  We introduce the concept of vacuum energy and explore two of its physical implications: the Casimir effect and the Unruh effect.  The Casimir effect is a result of electromagnetic fluctuations in the vacuum; these fluctuations can exert force on electrical conductors under the right conditions.  The Unruh effect is still theoretical, but suggests that an observer under acceleration will detect thermal radiation due to ‘friction’ between the observer and the vacuum.  This talk emphasizes the electromagnetic, optical, and thermodynamic aspects of these phenomena and the experiments used or proposed to detect them.