Washington, Dec 9 (ANI): A combination of ultra-high-intensity laser beam and a two-mile-long particle accelerator could be used to create something out of nothing, according to University of Michigan researchers.
Their equations that show how a high-energy electron beam combined with an intense laser pulse could rip apart a vacuum into its fundamental matter and antimatter components, and set off a cascade of events that generates additional pairs of particles and antiparticles.
"We can now calculate how, from a single electron, several hundred particles can be produced. We believe this happens in nature near pulsars and neutron stars," said Igor Sokolov, an engineering research scientist.
The basis of the idea is that vacuum is not exactly nothing.
"It is better to say, following theoretical physicist Paul Dirac, that a vacuum, or nothing, is the combination of matter and antimatter-particles and antiparticles. Their density is tremendous, but we cannot perceive any of them because their observable effects entirely cancel each other out," Sokolov said.
Matter and antimatter destroy each other when they come into contact under normal conditions. But in a strong electromagnetic field, this annihilation can be the source of new particles, said associate research scientist John Nees.
The researchers describe this work as a theoretical breakthrough, and a "qualitative jump in theory."
This work could potentially have applications in inertial confinement fusion, which could produce cleaner energy from nuclear fusion reactions, the researchers say.
"The basic question of what is a vacuum, and what is nothing, goes beyond science. It's embedded deeply in the base not only of theoretical physics, but of our philosophical perception of everything-of reality, of life, even the religious question of could the world have come from nothing," said Sokolov.
The study is published in Physical Review Letters. (ANI)