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Mar 5, 2019

The force is with us, always? Tuning quantum vacuum forces from attractive to repulsive

Posted by in categories: quantum physics, weapons

The force is strong not only in Star Wars lore but also as a fundamental property in physics. For example, scientists can put two uncharged metal plates close together in a vacuum, and “voila!” —-they will attract each other like Luke Skywalker and his trusted lightsaber.

In 1948, Dutch theoretical physicist Hendrick Casimir first predicted an attractive force responsible for this effect—later dubbed the Casimir effect. A half-century later, in 1996, the Casimir force was experimentally measured for the first time by Steve Lamoreaux at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

But just like the light and dark side of the force in Star Wars, scientists have wondered, can there be an equal yet opposite kind of Casimir force?

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