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Zero Point Energy (merged)

Discussions of conventional and alternative energy production technologies.

Re: Zero Point energy

Unread postby GoIllini » Tue 26 Sep 2006, 01:17:25

MonteQuest wrote:Oh, not forever, but until we hit the wall we will not change. And even then, only because we have no other choice.

We are dealing with cultural direction and asset inertia.

Monte,

This seems like a new word you've dropped, and I'm interested in what you mean by it. I worked for a financial institution this summer with even some wonks from Wharton, and I never heard it.

Traders there worked with hundreds of millions, and could get in and out of trades in a matter of less than two or three minutes. By the way, there are thousands of traders like these guys out there. I know you're going to drop some number on the order of tens or hundreds of trillions, but keep in mind that we're measuring what they can do in a matter of minutes, not weeks or months. I'll agree with you that some things like factories, refineries, malls, and other buildings are fixed assets, but if you're talking about asset inertia in the context that fixed assets are like displacement, velocity doesn't necessarily have to be continuous like it does in Physics, IMHO. You get days like the ones in 1929 or 1987 that show the market can change direction quickly.


I actually think society would take off if that happened.

If this free energy can actually be extracted at a (virtually) limitless rate as well, then degradation of the planet seems to be a non-issue. We'll be able to manufacture whatever we want: clean water, clean ecosystems, machines that pull carbon and sulfur out of the sky, etc.

The technology isn't there now, but I'm assuming it exists in theory if you have the energy for it. And unlimited energy would give us the unlimited growth necessary to achieve that technology.

When the planet starts to run out of space, we use our unlimited energy to propel spacecrafts at 95% of lightspeed to other earth like planets we have found with our new high powered telescopes. The inhabitants are fozen during the trip and don't realize thousands of years have passed. When they arrive, they use all the free energy and manufacturing machines that were sent along to make a new society.

Or we could just make Mars habitable. Manufacture some oxygen, tune the CO2 content just right for its additional distance from the sun and smaller size..etc. Heck, no reason we couldn't do that for the moon, or Mercury and Venus too! (Dunno about the gas giants. I don't see how to make them solid and keep their size. And you don't exactly want to fall through the surface.)

Or, I could be completely wrong and free energy means we kill ourselves more quickly. Who knows.


My thinking is that if we can make energy for free, and space is truly infinite, there really are no physical side-effects to human activities, no matter how big. However, there may be social consequences.

That's what frightens me about this. Whatever technology could give us unlimited energy could be totally devastating in a war.
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Re: Zero Point energy

Unread postby GoIllini » Tue 26 Sep 2006, 02:24:32

ElijahJones wrote:Interesting question. I think one way to answer is to address human nature. If we suddenly had a limitless energy supplies would it bring peace on Earth? No not likely. I think with limitless energy we would still go through a series of overshoot and collapses of our population, we would probably pollute the natural environment beyond anything imaginable. It is the nature of the beast that in this case is causing it's own destruction. One hopes that the result of a die-off will be only those capable of advancing the species survining while those who most contributed to the problem perish, but that is not a forgone conclusion. I find myself rather convinced that miraculously we are living in what the Bible calls the latter days, and the Creator will be back soon. But beneath all the hype there is an issue about what good and evil is and why it is such a major difficulty for humans to chose good and reject wrong. Some thing smight be simple like you can't respond to a catastrophe you cannot understand, so IQ comes in. You cannot force others to do only what you want, so free will comes in. But it seems clear that humans are not perfectly adapted yet to living on the planet. But then again we could argue that we are also experiencing what any species in overshoot experiences, it just that we alone have the means to talk philosophically about it.


Imagine that you give everyone every material desire they want- free energy and technology could do that. Having every material desire doesn't change the fact that you're a human and competitive (and imperfect) by nature.

If we give humans every material desire they want, the next thing they'll want is the ability to control others. It's the one thing they can't get easily.

I have no moral problem with having humans spread all over the universe and "screwing everything up". I do have a problem with humans running out of material things to want more of.

The solution would be simple, but difficult to accomplish: control the technology such that energy supply growth is only 10%/year. That's plenty of energy for an off-the-wall booming economy, but not too much for humans to run out of new things to want.

Imagine that some human managed to develop a way to create matter or energy out of nothing; something that previously, only God could do. Maybe EJ and I are both thinking of how a certain someone in the book of Revelation might try to bring about world peace and claim he (or maybe she) is God.
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Re: Zero Point energy

Unread postby Dezakin » Tue 26 Sep 2006, 02:30:33

ElijahJones wrote:
Matrim wrote:Just wondering what everyone thinks would happen if we actually achieved a limitless supply of energy? I know what I think would happen but I'd like to know what you think would happen. I'll post what I think the consequences of such a thing would be if anyone actually replies to this, but first, your thoughts.


Interesting question. I think one way to answer is to address human nature. If we suddenly had a limitless energy supplies would it bring peace on Earth? No not likely. I think with limitless energy we would still go through a series of overshoot and collapses of our population, we would probably pollute the natural environment beyond anything imaginable.


More evidence that the consensus on this board is a death cult. No matter what solution is offered, people here believe in doom. Assume that all energy is taken care of, oh theres something else waiting to destroy us all.
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Re: Zero Point energy

Unread postby Doly » Tue 26 Sep 2006, 04:42:26

If energy stopped being a limiting factor, something else would be.

But I disagree with the concept that overshoot and collapse is inevitable. There are several ways of approaching a limiting factor, and overshoot and collapse is only the most catastrophic. Other possible outcomes is approaching the limit by oscilating around it or approaching it from underneath but never reaching it.

Considering that people are intelligent creatures, approaching the limiting factor in a less than catastrophic manner seems entirely possible and even likely.
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Re: Zero Point energy

Unread postby dinopello » Tue 26 Sep 2006, 06:51:08

MonteQuest wrote:Why else are 300 million Americans the equivalent of 20 billion Chinese?


I'm not sure where that ratio comes from. You are saying that you could increase the US population by over 60 times its current with no impact (as long as they were all Chinese-or at least live like Chinese?). That actually gives us some hope I think.
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Re: Zero Point energy

Unread postby gg3 » Tue 26 Sep 2006, 07:51:11

Bingo! GoIllini wins this round with "That's what frightens me about this. Whatever technology could give us unlimited energy could be totally devastating in a war."

Yes, our group looked into the implications of ZPE for warfare and weapons. Or more specifically, a colleague and I did so.

IF the strong version of the ZPF (zero-point field) hypothesis was correct, the weapons potentials make the hydrogen bomb look like a firecracker, and make law enforcement's worst nightmares seem like a game of checkers. And I am not kidding.

Here's one example, one of the mildest we came up with: RF chaff. A small plane flies over a city. Someone in the back of the plane has a bunch of sacks of what appears to be shredded office paper but vaguely brown metallic in color. They open the side door of the aircraft and start dumping those bags out the door. As the "stuff" settles to the ground, all radio frequency communication to and from the areas where it settles, is blanketed with a frustrating layer of hissing sputtering crackling white noise, like a blizzard that covers a landscape to the point where nothing except vague shapes remains visible. Radios and wireless devices of all types are jammed to the point where they are worthless for any kind of practical communication.

The only reason I mention this in any detail now is that I ultimately concluded that the ZPF could not produce enough ZPE to make such a thing feasible. No megawatts, no kilowatts, and no super weapons either. No magic genie for good or for harm.

And for y'all who persist in asking "what if" there was an unlimited source of clean energy: Have you ever even done a serious inquiry into this field, much less first-hand research, much less putting your hands on the purported devices? I have, and people I worked with have, and I'm here to tell you it doesn't work. NO free lunch, dinner, or desert. You may as well fantasize about unlimited sex, unlimited drugs, or unlimited chocolate ice cream with whipped cream and cherries on top.

Now let's stop this foolishness and start lobbying for wind farms and nuclear reactors, ecovillages and electric cars, hardcore conservation and contraception, and all the rest; and investing in them when they're being planned, and making sure they get built and deployed.
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Re: Zero Point energy

Unread postby Heineken » Tue 26 Sep 2006, 08:35:30

Omnitir wrote:
Heineken wrote:Unlimited free energy would not make us any smarter. Or change any other human characteristics.

Don’t be so sure about that. Unlimited free energy means continued technological progress. Give it enough time (say, another 20 to 40 years), and advances - especially in biological engineering, nano technology, and robotics - means that our very nature is changed on a fundamental level. People would certainly be smarter with such technology.



We've already had technological change that dwarfs our primitive beginnings.

We're no smarter, wiser, kinder, or gentler as a result.

On the other hand, our capacity to destroy has been enhanced many fold.
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Re: Zero Point energy

Unread postby GoIllini » Tue 26 Sep 2006, 12:48:06

Dezakin wrote:More evidence that the consensus on this board is a death cult. No matter what solution is offered, people here believe in doom. Assume that all energy is taken care of, oh theres something else waiting to destroy us all.


LOL.

Seriously, though, my concern is with the extremes. If we have all the energy we want, we'll screw things up. If we don't get enough energy to meet our physical needs, we'll screw things up.

A nice balance would be continued energy supply growth, or maybe having energy supply slowly level off.
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Re: Zero Point energy

Unread postby EnergyUnlimited » Tue 26 Sep 2006, 13:22:48

I observe that this thread has been derailed.
Peoples are now confusing ZPE with energy from nowhere, eg perpetual motion garbage.
I had seen few articles suggesting that ZPE may actually be possible to harness in some fashion allowing to keep our 2nd law intact.
I do not fully know, how this could be possible. Could someone (gg3?) explain?
As long as I am aware there are 2 major ways, how to exploit ZPE.
1. Cassimir vacuum effects. Those would allow very marginal gains, as long as Cassimir system could be maintained to exist indefinitely.
2. Quantuum vacuum phase transition. This could [in principle] release truly fantastic amounts of energy, but no witness of the event would be left to tell his tale and this is regardless of how much of energy had been actually released. The machine capable to set it going would be an ultimate "doomsday device" - BTW please do not tell me that few current particle accelerators may well get there - this is an EXTREMELY UNLIKELY SCENARIO.

Now, the question to those who know more - Is there any other way to harness this energy?
If not, we do not need to bother about it.
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Re: Zero Point energy

Unread postby Bobbotov » Tue 26 Sep 2006, 13:58:37

It seems to me that looking at the universe which is in a constant state of dynamic change that humans would better be served learning to live with finite lives and finite resources. It has been my experience that humans have never done well with an over abundance of anything: food, money, sex, alcohol, drugs, etc. Humans only value and appreciate the precious. I think the fact the world is running our of fossil fuels is a good thing. We have been drunk on energy for hundreds of years and it is time to sober up.
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Re: Zero Point energy

Unread postby emailking » Tue 26 Sep 2006, 14:11:57

EnergyUnlimited wrote:I observe that this thread has been derailed.
Peoples are now confusing ZPE with energy from nowhere, eg perpetual motion garbage.
I had seen few articles suggesting that ZPE may actually be possible to harness in some fashion allowing to keep our 2nd law intact.
I do not fully know, how this could be possible. Could someone (gg3?) explain?


Zero point energy would indeed be virtually limitless. But so is the energy contained in a mountain. The issue is more can we exploit it and at what rate? So far, not very much as you detail. But you can't rule out a breakthrough.
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Re: Zero Point energy

Unread postby MonteQuest » Tue 26 Sep 2006, 22:26:31

Omnitir wrote: No, we are talking about the implications of unlimited free energy, which would eventually lead to the end of material desire.


Oh? The last time we had literally unlimited energy we didn't. the desire accelerated.

MonteQuest wrote:When oil was 6 cents a barrel…

Irrelevant. I’m talking about the end result of progress (the future), while you’re focusing on the past.


No, I'm talking about the end result of our last progress.

What have we learned that will prevent a repeat of the past?

Who will enforce this conservative nature?

I see absolutely no move in that direction.
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Re: Zero Point energy

Unread postby MonteQuest » Tue 26 Sep 2006, 22:29:40

GoIllini wrote:
MonteQuest wrote:Oh, not forever, but until we hit the wall we will not change. And even then, only because we have no other choice.

We are dealing with cultural direction and asset inertia.

Monte,

This seems like a new word you've dropped, and I'm interested in what you mean by it.


New? Not hardly. You will find it many times in my writings on this site over the last two years.

It means we have been doing it this way for so long and have so much invvested in doing it this way, that it will not soon pass.
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Re: Zero Point energy

Unread postby MonteQuest » Tue 26 Sep 2006, 22:33:53

Dezakin wrote: More evidence that the consensus on this board is a death cult. No matter what solution is offered, people here believe in doom. Assume that all energy is taken care of, oh theres something else waiting to destroy us all.


No, people believe in basic ecology.

And yes, if we had all the energy we desired, some other factor would set the limit of our carrying capacity.

That's the way the world works.
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Re: Zero Point energy

Unread postby MonteQuest » Tue 26 Sep 2006, 22:43:10

Doly wrote:If energy stopped being a limiting factor, something else would be.

But I disagree with the concept that overshoot and collapse is inevitable. There are several ways of approaching a limiting factor, and overshoot and collapse is only the most catastrophic. Other possible outcomes is approaching the limit by oscilating around it or approaching it from underneath but never reaching it.

Considering that people are intelligent creatures, approaching the limiting factor in a less than catastrophic manner seems entirely possible and even likely.


Then you don't yet grasp that the sequel to overshoot is always a die-off when a species comes across a heretofore unavailable energy/food source and blooms as a result.

Read William Catton's Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change.

You want to debate this issue, first get a firm grasp of it's concepts.

Overshoot and the resulting collapse are not up for debate in the context I have presented. The only way to prevent the collapse is to limit the popualtion before the overshoot, or reduce the population. And if you try to do it too late, it won't make any difference.

Google the Lily Pond Parable to see why.

This is well understood by biologists and ecologists.

Name one species that has not been subject to it.
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Re: Zero Point energy

Unread postby MonteQuest » Tue 26 Sep 2006, 22:49:51

dinopello wrote:
MonteQuest wrote:Why else are 300 million Americans the equivalent of 20 billion Chinese?


I'm not sure where that ratio comes from. You are saying that you could increase the US population by over 60 times its current with no impact (as long as they were all Chinese-or at least live like Chinese?).


No, that isn't what this says. It says that the US comsumes a whole lot more than the Chinese and has a much higher impact on the world's environment.
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Re: Zero Point energy

Unread postby dinopello » Wed 27 Sep 2006, 01:10:14

MonteQuest wrote:No, that isn't what this says. It says that the US comsumes a whole lot more than the Chinese and has a much higher impact on the world's environment.


Thanks for setting me straight, got caught up in trying to apply the numbers you provided.

I wish some of those Chinese PO.com lurkers would jump in here. What would you guys do if you had unlimited free energy ? Would you stay frugal and continue to live by modest means or would you go on a consumption and reproduction binge ?
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Re: Zero Point energy

Unread postby Dezakin » Wed 27 Sep 2006, 01:23:21

MonteQuest wrote:
Dezakin wrote: More evidence that the consensus on this board is a death cult. No matter what solution is offered, people here believe in doom. Assume that all energy is taken care of, oh theres something else waiting to destroy us all.


No, people believe in basic ecology.

Humans change the rules too often to assume ecological models of squirrel populations apply the same way to humans. You might as well use models of an ideal gas to model carribu migration. Its your belief, not a universal one.

And yes, if we had all the energy we desired, some other factor would set the limit of our carrying capacity.

That's the way the world works.


Carrying capacity of what? The sky?

If we postulate unlimited energy everything becomes a derivitive of it.
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Re: Zero Point energy

Unread postby Omnitir » Wed 27 Sep 2006, 01:25:12

MonteQuest wrote:
Omnitir wrote: No, we are talking about the implications of unlimited free energy, which would eventually lead to the end of material desire.


Oh? The last time we had literally unlimited energy we didn't. the desire accelerated.

Eventually. Given enough time, perhaps another 2 to 3 decades, social, cultural and technological change will naturally lead us to sustainability.

You can’t simply point to the past and say ‘oh look, we didn’t achieve this that or the other thing and therefore we never will’. With continued progress, we will gradually undergo dramatic change as our world changes. You can not expect humanity to live like we did in the 20th century forever, even with free energy.

No, I'm talking about the end result of our last progress.

And I agree, we haven’t yet reached sustainability. It’s not exactly a revelation. But what is a revelation, is the theory that progress eventually leads us out of the hole we’ve dug, not make it deeper.

The problem is running out of steam before we reach a certain level.

Who will enforce this conservative nature?

It will be a natural evolution, not enforced by any group or individual.

I see absolutely no move in that direction.

Of course you don’t, it’s another few decades away at least, and it requires continued progress. Your statement is the equivalent to me saying that I see no move to remove 4+ billion people from the human population. It’s not happening right now, but we both foresee a time when our respective predictions will likely unfold. The only difference is that I really hope that one day I can say to you all “see, I told you so!” :)
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