Vacuum is by no means empty. In fact, vacuum is full of various (virtual) particles that continuously fluctuate in and out of existence. They appear, exist for a brief movement and then disappear again.
A physicist, Gerald T. Moore, predicted way back in the 1970s that this should happen if the virtual photons are allowed to bounce of a mirror that is moving at a speed, almost as high as the speed of light. The phenomenon, known as the dynamical Casimir effect, has now been observed for the first time in an innovative experiment conducted by scientists within Nanoscience and Nanotechnology area at Chalmers.
This can perhaps be of use in the research field of quantum information, which includes development of quantum computers. However, the main value of the experiment is that it increases our understanding of basic physical concepts, such as vacuum fluctuations – the constant appearance and disappearance of virtual particles in vacuum. It is believed that vacuum fluctuations may have a connection with “dark energy” which drives the accelerated expansion of the universe.
The research result was published in the international journal Nature in November 2011, and has already been referenced more than 140 times by media in 25 countries.
Full press release