Zero Point Energy:

Historical Background
and Perspectives

By Marc HERMANS - 2003


"The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible."

Arthur C. Clarke (Author of "2001, a Space Odyssey")



Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. The Vacuum emerges from Nothingness

3. The "Vacuum Catastrophe"

4. Theories can be noble and pure, but Experiment is sovereign

5. The Vacuum Engineering: a Technological Leap

6. Portable Free Energy: New Game, New Rules, New Strategy!

7. References

"We should like Nature to go no further; we should like it to be finite, like our mind; but this is to ignore the greatness and majesty of the Author of things."

LEIBNIZ Gottfried Wilhelm
(Letter to S.Clarke, 1715)


“The test of all knowledge is experiment”
Richard P. Feynman.

1. Introduction

Although as non occupationally, I have a passion for the use of the vacuum energy for more than twenty years now.

What does this expression cover? Well, it covers the possibility, by means of a novel technology, to transform the so called "void" space into an energy source. What an absurd idea!, could one say to himself. At first sight only. I will try to show you that some thought-to-be ounce and for all established truths can sometimes be called into question.

For a long time, there were only rare and meagre scientific references that mentioned this possibility, but always with an abstract and theoretical manner.

The question to know whether or not one can really utilise the vacuum energy, also named zero-point energy, or free energy, has seldom been evoked among the concerned scientific circles before the years 1990.

One of the reasons may be that the dynamic structure of "empty" space is, in quantum physics, formulated in a too complex or too abstract manner. Moreover, besides the Casimir effect([i]), in the absence of an experimental and explicit proof of its existence, only a few physicists ventured to see it as a real energetic medium.

Some still tried to evaluate an equivalent energy density([ii]): the astronomical amounts obtained lead to further de-credibilize any realistic interpretation of this energy, at least among most of them. There was a kind of "freeze", theoretical and psychological.

This situation has had the chronic consequence to send back, since it's invention with the work of Nernst in 1916, the concept of zero-point energy to the mathematics artefacts department, surely useful, but considered as having no connection to reality.

2. The Vacuum emerges from Nothingness  

However, two out of the most famous physicist of the twentieth century, the Nobel Prizes David Bohm and Andreï Sakharov, had each one their own conceptions ahead of their times. They tried to make appear the quantum vacuum structure as a major player of the fundamental interactions.

David Bohm([iii]) back in the fifties for the quantum electrodynamics (Electromagnetic Interactions) with the famous Aharonov-Bohm effect, which formalises the influence of certain scalar fields in vacuum. On his side, Andreï Sakharov([iv]) proposed in the sixties that gravitation could be a side effect emerging from the microscopic fluctuations of the zero-point fields, resulting from a mutual influence between vacuum and matter.

Later and recent works([v]) have since try to integer the vacuum potentials in the Electromagnetic theory, as well as to model its effects in respect to the more general concept of inertia.

This branch of theoretical and experimental physics is in a way parallel to the efforts of the Standard Model that wishes to be the ultimate unification of particle physics. Some speak about "fields", "zero-point fluctuations", or "scalar potentials", the others about "virtual particles", "fundamental particles" of matter, "quantum gravitation" or about "string theory".

One can say that we are dealing with two complementary ways to tackle and to formalise the fundamental energies of the Universe.

3. The "Vacuum Catastrophe"

Two apparently irreconcilable points of view are confronting each other:

-          either a nil or quasi nil vacuum energy;

-          or a vacuum containing a very high energy density, whose value remains to be determined, but which is in blatant contradiction with the first possibility evoked hereabove.

 Another way to express this problem in terms more familiar to physicists could be:

-how to reconcile the embarrassing quasi-infinite terms appearing in quantum theory when one manipulates the zero-point fluctuations, with the "einsteinian" cosmo-physical simulations that require a quasi nil vacuum energy density, without the risk of seeing our dear universe collapsing on itself in a matter of seconds([1])…?

This uncomfortable situation has been name by physicists the “vacuum catastrophe”.

4. Theories can be noble and pure, but Experiment is sovereign

As the French mathematician Jean-Marie Souriau ounce defined it: "Theoretical physics is mathematics without rigour, and physics without experiments", he is quoted with a touch of irony on the personal web site of the physicist Jean-Pierre PETIT([vi]).

One cannot simply invoke this enormous potential energy structure that is the zero-point energy just to fix up the balance equations and the quantified energy exchanges, and then voilà!, with a magic wand, make this cumbersome and pervasive character disappear by means of some mathematical procedures called "renormalisation". David Bohm himself already openly denounced in the seventies the "ad-hoc" nature of these closed room renormalisation procedures([vii]).

This energy exists, like it or not, even if it manifests itself in a discreet manner and is too tricky to handle à priori. Sooner or later one will have to resolve this paradox, even if it means to re-evaluate the "area of validity" of some basic axioms defined at the creation of the common used theories since Maxwell and Einstein.

After all, the choice of the founding axioms and the basic units of any formal theory using the mathematics, whatever it may be, is arbitrary and subjective. Besides, knowing since Kurt Gödel([viii]) that any formal theory contains intrinsic limits, it appears obvious that faced with an undecidable situation, as is precisely the concrete evaluation of the vacuum energy, experiment is sovereign.

Here is a recent example, where experiment calls into question some well established theoretical models.

The case of the so-called cold nuclear reactions, declared totally impossible by the supporters of classical nuclear physics, are nevertheless being reproduced everyday for about ten years now in renowned laboratories all around the world([ix]).

In short, some realisations may be declared improbable or even impossible today at the light of decades long established experimental and theoretical results, and find themselves called into question tomorrow morning, generally where nobody expects it. These calling into question may be theoretical as well as experimental, or both simultaneously.

5. The Vacuum Engineering: a Technological Leap

This expression first appeared in a book written by Nobel Prize T.D. LEE, published in 1981 and dealing with particle physics([x]).

Just as Nuclear Engineering([xi]) is a set of technologies based on theoretical models and designed to control the nuclear reactions, the Vacuum Engineering (V.E.), according to the American physicist Harold Puthoff([xii]) himself, is destined to become rapidly the equivalent in regard to zero-point energy.

Here is an extract of his words, pronounced in January 2001 during an international conference in Brighton (U.K.) : “The last century was the atomic age, but this one could well turn out to be the zero-point age. 

We are at the stage that the fathers of the atomic bomb were at when they put together their first test nuclear reactor in the early Forties - and look what happened a few years later.” ([2])

Institutions such as NASA([xiii]), research centres such as the British National Space Centre and the Society of British Aerospace Companies, private consortiums such as Lockheed-Martin, the United States Army, as well as more and more universities([xiv]) notably in the USA display since recently their ambitions to found and develop theoretical researches and practical applications on an industrial basis of the Vacuum Engineering.

These researches have multiple objectives, but two of the most important are certainly:

-          Fuelless inertial propulsion, that means the vacuum manipulation in order to obtain a directional propulsive force;

-          Energy extraction (mainly electric) from the Zero-Point fields fluctuations.

On a theoretical level, researchers are trying to find formulas and expressions usable by engineers, written in an accessible mathematical language, and suitable for programming and computing.

On the experimental side, original experiments and setups are perfected in order to test the different hypothesis and in so doing to highlight some practical means to "manipulate" this energy.([xv])

In this domain, more than in any other, imagination is in power, and the challenges are many to accept.
It means no less than to create a new technological know-how, with its theoretical models, its basic principles, its inventions and patents that will with no doubt rapidly appear but also its intrinsic limits, and eventually its industrial numerous developments. At this very moment a new
knowledge network is being set up into place, with its exchanges and its abundance of new ideas.([xvi])

In parallel to that, one have to convince at the same time scientists themselves, but also the industrialists, the engineers, and last but not least the investors, that these projects will effectively allow to create a technological renaissance, and that the game is worth playing. A whole curriculum, but what a curriculum!

6. Portable Free Energy: New Game, New Rules, New Strategy!

"Utopia? No, because human society will always be imperfect - but perhaps not as dysfunctional as it is today. These technologies are real - I have seen them.
Anti-gravity is a reality and so is free energy generation. This is not a fantasy or a hoax. Do not believe those who say that this is not possible: they are the intellectual descendants of those who said the Wright brothers would never fly."

Steven M. Greer, Extract from the 'Executive Summary of the Disclosure Project Briefing Document', p.4, April 2001. (


Multiple and generous fall-outs are in sight. A brand new society will appear, characterised by:

-         flexible and silent terrestrial and aerial transportations ;

-         omnipresent and all-encompassing electric energy sources.

At the global level, it represents the possibility to develop at last a super ecological society in all the corners of the Earth, with the help of a discreet, powerful, clean technology which will be relatively cheap.

This means a global durable development which leads to more social stability.

Free energy, as often called, is destined to free men from the industrial technological slavery inherited from the Second Waves, to quote Alvin Toffler's words, while generating a Win-Win dynamics.
The old capitalistic and monopolistic-like domination can be summarise down to this cynic mechanism:

-resort to economic slavery from underdeveloping countries (manpower and raw materials) to fabric cheap products that are sold overpriced in developing countries where the interior demand is unnaturally amplified by aggressive and often vulgar advertising campaigns.

The new vacuum technologies will allow the creation of a world where economic development will be massive and global, where prosperity will be generated in all the corners of the Earth, by many more individuals than today, who will have a better health, who will have more energy at their disposal, and finally more technical, transportation and communication means.

This very world will create more wealth, and sooner or later more freedom, than today's world. This wealth, may it be material, cultural or intellectual, will be more naturally shared by everybody for the benefit of everyone.

Among our developing countries, this new global ecological way of thinking has, since a few years now, already got off, including in the hard business world with what is called the fair or ethical investment funds. This sector is now growing at a quite fast pace.([xvii])

Arthur C. Clarke, the famous author of "2001, a Space Odyssey" is a zero-point energy enthusiast. Despite his great age, he still militates in favour of a massive research investment in this domain, as well as for other connected new energy breakthroughs. He also gives lectures, interviews, and write articles for magazines and prefaces to books. The vacuum manipulation has even become one of the main subjects of his recent novel « 3001, The Final Odyssey ».([xviii])

Since Nikolas Tesla and his halo of mysterious and brilliant inventor, a whole world of underground independent researchers and inventors have spawned. Many have asserted having set up the generator or the invention that would without any doubt save the world. Is it necessary to point out that, apart from great confusion and total scientific discredit, few positive things came out.

However, some authors recently investigated a certain number of these controversial "discoveries": the least they say about them is that a serious selection will have to be carried out during the years to come, but, according to the investigators, a few promising inventions may still exist.
A few recent books focus on that particular topic and try to sort out the good from the bad.(

After reading and meditating about this exposé, if you think like us that the wind of change is blowing again, and that the time has come for a technological rebirth in the new energy field, mainly from those based on the quantum physics discoveries, then we share a common vision!

Contact us NOW and send us your comment and/or your concrete proposals!


7. References

[1] At least on the computer screens…


[2] First International Field Propulsion Meeting, that took place at the Sussex University campus in Brighton, U.K., from January 20th to 22nd 2001.

This conference was sponsored by the British National Space Centre, as well as the Society of British Aerospace Companies.


[i] The Casimir effect stipulates that zero point energy fluctuations alone cause a feeble but real attraction force between any two material bodies close enough and electrically neutral. Let's put it clearly: this force has nothing to do with the four fundamental forces of nature: electromagnetic, strong and feeble nuclear force, and gravitation.

Invented and formalised in the fifties by its creator, the Dutch scientist Hendrik Casimir (“On the attraction between two perfectly conducting plates,” presented at a meeting at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences on May 29th 1948. Published the same year in the Proceedings K. Ned. Akad. Wet., vol. 51, 1948, p. 793), , this effect has recently found brilliant experimental confirmation in laboratory by S. Lamoreaux with a remarkable acuity compared to theoretical calculations (« Demonstration of the Casimir Force in the 0.6 to 6 mm Range » Phys. Rev. Letters,78, 5 ,1997).

NB: the Van Der Waals attraction forces, well known in chemistry, are also caused by some kind of long range zero point field interactions at the atomic scale.


[ii] Vacuum energy density evaluations varies from at least 1044 J/cm3 up to an incredible 10120 J/cm3, depending on the basic assumptions. R. Podolny "Something Called Nothing: Physical Vacuum: What Is It?", Mir Publishers, Moscow, 1986, p. 181.


[iii] Aharonov, Y. et D. Bohm, "Significance of Electromagnetic Potentials in the Quantum Theory, "Physical Review, Second Series, 115(3), 1959, pp. 485-491; "Further considerations on electromagnetic potentials in the quantum theory," Physical Review, 123(4), August 15th, 1961, pp.1511-1524.

See also: S. Olariu et I. Iovitzu Popescu “The Quantum Effects of Electromagnetic Fluxes,” Reviews of Modern Physics, 57(2), Apr. 1985, p. 339-436. This article proposes a thorough discussion of the Aharonov-Bohm effect with hundreds of references.


[iv] Sakharov, A.: “Vacuum Quantum Fluctuations in Curved Space and the Theory of Gravitation”, Soviet Physics - Doklady, Vol. 12, No. 11, 1040 (1968).


[v] For gravitation and Inertia, consult the papers of Puthoff, Cole, Rueda and Haisch, from 1989 until now.

An example of paper: : “Inertial mass and the quantum vacuum fields”, Bernard Haisch, Alfonso Rueda, York Dobyns, Annalen der Physik, Sept. 2000.

About the extension of classical Maxwell Electromagnetic Theory to the vacuum effects, see notably the work of ADAS (, the Association of Distinguished American Scientists from which the present effort aims to unify the three major disciplines of science, namely the classical Electromagnetic, General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics.

See also the work of AIAS, the Alpha Institute for Advanced Study which is a group of researchers, some of whom also belong to ADAS. They have published some articles on the DOE web site (

Some of their articles have passed the referees barrier and have been, or will soon be, published in high rank periodicals.

An example of article: Myron W. Evans et al., AIAS group paper by 15 authors, "Classical Electrodynamics Without the Lorentz Condition: Extracting Energy from the Vacuum," Physica Scripta, Vol. 61, 2000, p. 513-517 (


[vi] The personal web site of Jean-Pierre PETIT :


[vii] David Bohm thoroughly discussed this matter at the time of the famous colloquium « Science et Conscience : les deux lectures de l’Univers » that took place in Cordoba, in Spain, in 1979 (the proceedings where available at the Editions Stock with France Culture, ISBN 2.234.01343.7, 1980)
Here is an extract, pp. 107-108 : « In the current physics theories, this energy (theoretically infinite) is more or less ignored in the procedures called
renormalizations. These procedures come down to the use of mathematical technical algorithms that "skip" this infinity (and others of the same kind) only to keep some results from the "displacements of the origin of co-ordinates" to infinity, as correctives applicable to the finite and observable quantities (such as the energy levels of atoms). Yet this procedure lacks of logical coherence. Because one starts with a given theory, which leads to infinite results, then to modify it afterwards arbitrarily with a technical algorithm that gives finite results. (…)

Let's repeat again, in this connection, that there is a certain logical inconsistency to ignore the displacements of the origin of co-ordinates in vacuum when one finds it convenient, while taking it into account when one finds it useful to obtain wished results. Certainly, our instruments are only small material systems in the immense energy ocean and (like the fish in the ocean) they wouldn't be able to notice its immensity by any straightforward mean. But the coherence of thinking demands that we welcome with serious the hypothesis that this gigantic energy is a reality, even if our instruments are unable to directly reveal to us its presence.»
(Attention: the translation here above is done by me, the original text appears in French)


[viii] Kurt Gödel, Austrian mathematician, published in 1931 his famous theorems that demonstrate the incompleteness of any formal axiomatic system that uses mathematics. Gödel’s theorem warns us that the axiomatic method of making logical deductions from given (arbitrary) assumptions cannot lead to a system which is both complete and consistent. There will always be truths that exists beyond, out of the reaches of any particular theory.


[ix] See notably the papers published by Fusion Technology. This publication is released 7 times a year by the American Nuclear Society. (

A recent example of paper:

« Producing a Radioactive Source in a Deuterated Palladium Electrode Under Direct-Current Glow Discharge », Vol39, n°2, March 2001, by Hiroshi Yamada, Kazuyoshi Uchiyama, Nobuhiko Kawata, Yoshiyuki, Kurisawa, Mitsuru Nakamura.


[x] Lee, T. D., Nobel Laureate, Particle Physics and Introduction to Field Theory, Harwood, New York, 1981. The author indicates the theoretical possibility of using some Vacuum Engineering in chapter n°25:“Outlook: Possibility of Vacuum Engineering”, pp. 824-828.


[xi] Nuclear Engineering: This discipline was progressively elaborated after the scientific leap represented by the military research efforts of World War II, almost American (Manhattan Project).


[xii] Harold Puthoff, Director of The Institute for Advanced Studies, in Austin, Texas (USA).


[xiii] Surf on the site of the Breakthrough Propulsion Physics workshop  set up in 1997 by NASA:


[xiv] See for example the CIPA (Californian Institute for Physics and Astrophysics) web site:


[xv] See for example the web site of Quantum Fields , of the American physicist Jordan Maclay : One of his major goal is to discover some technology to tap the zero-point energy. Here is an extract of his site: “Our mission is to utilise phenomena of quantum physics with enabling technologies in order to develop revolutionary methods that can meet engineering objectives.”

"We cannot get something for nothing—this would violate the conservation of energy and the second law of thermodynamics. But maybe we can find a convenient way to pay for the vacuum energy and thereby use it profitably." (Jordan Maclay)


[xvi] Breakthrough Propulsion Physics of NASA, ibid.


[xvii] See for example the bank Triodos (, or the network Ethibel:, or the alternative investment network:


[xviii] Ed. Voyager - Harper Collins, 1997, ISBN 0246126892.

On pages 256-257 the author indicates the scientific sources on which he imagined the future.


[xix] See for example:
“The Coming Energy Revolution: the search for free energy”, by Jeanne Manning, 230 pages, Ed. Avery Publishing Group (1996 - ISBN 0895297132); or more recently:

“The Search for Free Energy: A Scientific Tale of Jealousy, Genius and Electricity” by Keith Tutt, 365 pages, Ed. Simon & Schuster (2 April 2001 - ISBN 0684866609). This book is reviewed by Walt Patterson in the Newscientist edition of 28 April 2001, p. 48.


Here is synopsis from the editor :

This work reveals the work of inventors and scientists who are developing clean and "fuelless" ways to produce the electricity we need for the 21st century and beyond. It looks at the technologies that could drastically change the economic, political and environmental conditions of the world we live in. If developed commercially, they could offer almost costless energy and end the oil economy throughout the world. The book also investigates the psychology of invention and the claims that some inventors trick gullible investors out of their savings.


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