Open Questions: The Vacuum

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See also: Higgs physics -- Dark energy -- The cosmological constant

Introduction

Goldstone's theorem

The cosmological constant

Inflation

Higgs physics

The ultimate free lunch


Recommended references: Web sites

Recommended references: Magazine/journal articles

Recommended references: Books

Introduction



Recommended references: Web sites

Vacuum energy
Article from Wikipedia. See also virtual particle.
Vacuum as Seen from Moscow
Slide presentation given by Lev Okun at the 2001: A Spacetime Odyssey conference.
What is the 'zero-point energy' (or 'vacuum energy') in quantum physics?
July 1997 question and answer from Scientific American's Ask the Experts section. There is an additional answer here.


Recommended references: Magazine/journal articles

The Classical Vacuum
Timothy H. Boyer
Scientific American, August 1985, pp. 70-78
Experiments that measure the Casimir effect in a vacuum at near absolute zero indicate that the classical vacuum is not empty even in the absence of matter and thermal ratiation. The residual effect is known as classical electromagnetic zero-point radiation. The condition of Lorentz invariance determines the properties of the zero-point spectrum.


Recommended references: Books

Sten F. Odenwald -- Patterns in the Void: Why Nothing is Important
Westview Press, 2002
Odenwald's book is somewhat lightweight with a bit too much chit-chat of history, anecdote, and philosophy. But it does manage to talk about the vacuum, its properties, and its importance, despite the digressions into many other topics in cosmology and physics. The digressions may even be of interest if you haven't encountered them before.
John D. Barrow – The Book of Nothing: Vacuums, Voids, and the Latest Ideas about the Origins of the Universe
Pantheon Books, 2000
This is another book that wastes too much time with sententious ramblings about zero and philosophical bloviatings about voids and emptiness. It is further marred with excursions into theological gobbledygook. However, perhaps half of the book contains useful introductions to the quantum physics of the vacuum state and the role is plays in cosmology.
K. C. Cole -- The Hole in the Universe: How Scientists Peered over the Edge of Emptiness and Found Everything
Harcourt, Inc., 2000
The main subject of Cole's book is the vacuum and all of the phenomena which arise from (supposedly) "empty" space. Topics range over almost everything in high-energy physics and cosmology, from black holes to the cosmological constant to pea instantons. However, the level of presentation throughout is elementary.
Hening Genz -- Nothingness: The Science of Empty Space
Perseus Books, 1999
The book begins with an overly long history of "nothing". It very gradually picks up speed towards the end, where the interesting topics like Goldstone's theorem, the cosmological constant, inflation, and other cosmological concepts put in a brief appearance.

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