Dark energy identified – could we use it?

According to Professor John Barrow, professor of mathematical sciences at the University of Cambridge, dark energy, which provides the mysterious force that is pushing the clusters of galaxies apart, is, "Almost certainly quantum vacuum energy."

Speaking at a seminar entitled, "Our universe and others" at the University of Kent, he explained that dark energy makes up 73% of the universe, along with 23% cold dark matter that scientists continue to argue about, which holds the galaxies together, and 4% which comprises the atoms and molecules that make up ourselves and everything that is familiar to us.

The question, then has to be, that, since there is so much of it, and since, professor Michael Smith, professor of astronomy at the University of Kent, conjectures that it is, "Increasing" with the increased volume of the universe, could we make any practical use of it?

A quick survey of the Internet shows no shortage of people with ideas about how to do so, but sad to relate, almost all of them would appear to be either wishful thinking or downright fraudulent. Possibly, a machine to exploit dark energy would have to be the size of a cluster of galaxies in order to work, but there are also a number of quantum effects on the very small scale that suggest that it just might be possible to tap the energy associated with the fundamental nature of space. Most notable of these is perhaps the Casimir effect, which produces a net force between two plates placed very close to each other, because there are fewer quantum states between them than in space outside.

Tom Shelley

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